|Photo Credit: Ann Larie Valentine (Creative Commons)|
Why? Because it brought me back to the beginning of my youth ministry experience. Those early experiences, even when I was in middle school, haven't change all that much in the past 20 years:
Night games in the forest.
Uncomfortable camp mattresses.
Consuming loads of sugar and fast food.
Loud jump-up-and-down worship.
Crazy, sweat-inducing games.
Messy sermon illustrations.
Spontaneous dance parties.
Last minute we-are-gonna-have-to-wing-it plans.
Volunteers who sacrifice their time, energy, and body parts for the sake of young people.
Late-night emotional conversations.
These are the experiences that were the foundation for my own spiritual formation. They're the things that have kept me in youth ministry for over a decade. They are the memories that dot the timeline, the camps and retreats and missions trips and small groups conversations and counseling meetings and spontaneous hang-out moments. Those are the marks of my first love.
If you're tired or cynical or wondering if this whole youth ministry thing is worth it, remember your roots.
Get back to the basics. Recall the reasons you got into this youth ministry gig. Remember those who poured their life and energy into you in the name of Jesus. Then, lean into His heart and do the same.