Friday, July 16, 2010

This week high school students in our youth group at First Baptist will travel to Big Bend to enjoy an adventure in the great outdoors.  They will participate Outbound.  The youth will go hiking, white water rafting, rock repelling, and much, much more.  Along the way, they will learn more about leadership skills, relationships, creation, and God.  They will gain insights that someone can only gain when engaging in both fun and hard work, community and self-reflection.  Their relationships with each other and God will surely be strengthened.

Often times, this kind of growth is seen as preparing them for the future.  Their relationships with God and each other are strengthened, so that some day they can be responsible, thoughtful, and contributing adult Christians.  Youth have tons of potential and trips like Outbound nurture that potential and help it to fully flourish.

However, while there is a lot of truth in these ideas, it is dangerous and unfair to see teenage members of our church as only potential, as people who will one day in the far future offer gifts to the Church and their community.  When we view teenagers and children only as being in a preparatory state, we ignore the contributions they share with us now.  We often forget that they are contributing children of God’s Kingdom today, not ten years from now.

As the intern at FBC, I had the opportunity to spend an entire week with the youth group at camp in Sherman, TX.  Each night, we would sit to debrief the day’s activities.  We would share what we were learning and encourage each other.  During our time as a youth group, we named the gifts that we saw in each other.  It was a powerful experience that reminded me that each member of our church has gifts to share with us now – especially the members of our youth group.  Their kindness, intelligence, humor,generosity, and unique perspective are vital to our community and the Kingdom of God.  Their gifts are to be used now, not just when they reach some mark of potential in the future.
So next week, find a member of the youth group who went to Outbound.  Ask them what they learned on the trip.  Ask them what they think about God.  Ask them how they see the world around them.  Instead of simply encouraging their potential, receive the gifts from God they offer to you.

Amy Wiles, pastoral intern, FBC, Austin, TX


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