Monday, December 04, 2006
Last night was our United service with 3 other youth groups. We do this every five or six weeks, and it's always a great time. It's a cool way to build relationships with other youth pastors and ministries in our area, and it exposes students to the fact that every church is a little different, every church has its own personality.
When I was first approached about being a part of United, I was concerned: If our students spent time at other churches, are we going to lose them TO those churches? In some communities, this might happen. But I haven't seen it with the United groups at all. There's no attempt at stealing other students, and there really isn't a sense of competition about quality of programs, leaders, facilities or congregations. That's so cool to see and experience.
Last night was my turn to speak; the speaker is never the youth pastor at the host church. This being Christmas, we jumped into the topic of "What are you doing with Christmas?" Too often we ask the wrong questions at Christmas. We ask what people got, instead of what they gave. We ask how people got blessed, instead of how they blessed others. And we ask what people are doing FOR Christmas instead of what they're doing WITH Christmas.
Using the shepherds, Simeon and Anna as our models, we saw how Christmas should be a wonder-filled, magical, meaningful event in our lives -- but it should be something we share with others who don't know Jesus yet, and we need to recognize just how powerful it was that God would give His very best at Christmas.
We also had some fun with the students, pointing out how our image of the nativity scene isn't quite right. The shepherds and the wise men didn't show up on the same night. We don't know how many wise men there were; they presented 3 gifts, but the Bible doesn't say there were 3 wise men. The big display of angels happened in the fields with the shepherds, not around the stable. And there wasn't just one shepherd at the stable; the Bible is clear there was a whole group of them.
All in all, a great night! We host the next one, in February (no United in January), and I'm praying our warehouse renovation project will be completed by then...insulation, heat, carpet, new lights...mmmm. Much better than freezing in our metal building!