The Life of JaWS

A blog by Jason Sansbury

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A Youth Ministry Moment: the Barefoot Disciple...

So I am going to start a new series of posts about different youth ministry memories. Having been called by God to make a living doing youth ministry for nearly a decade now, I have quite a few memories. Sometimes these posts will be funny. Sometimes they will be sad. All will be true. And I hope they help me process some of the things that God has called me too. Something that happened this week sparked this memory…

I moved to Waycross, GA in the spring of 1998. I had just graduated from college and after having barely lived on the salary of being a student intern for Young Life, God gave me a great opportunity to move to Waycross and work at a church doing some of the relational work of Young Life and the discipleship work of the church.

One of the students who was in middle school then was a young man named Joshua. And to say that he was shy would be a massive understatement. In fact, Joshua was so shy that when his parents would come to Sunday School and drop him off, he would go hide in the empty carport of a house that our church owned. And it stayed like that for a couple years…He was nice enough to me, I was nice enough to him and he didn’t really connect or fit in.

Then suddenly, it changed. I mean, radically. Joshua went from being this kid on the sidelines to being the dream youth ministry student: real, God-seeking and open to others. He became one of those lynch pin kids that God uses to build and grow a group, just like God sometimes uses adults. It was out of the blue.

So about a year into this conversion of Joshua, we had an experiment going on in the church's Sunday night service. Once a month, the youth band would lead and I would speak and it was radically different from the other three weeks. (This service was a vestige of days gone by. Cokesbury hymnal singing and lots of other traditions. And it was all retired senior citizens (20 or so) and youth (40 or so.). One time a youth asked the pastor why he sometimes talked about living your faith out in the workplace on Sunday nights because all the people there were either in school or retired. The pastor had no good answer and not long after that we started doing the once a month youth nights.)

So on one of these Sunday nights it is really clicking. The worship is amazing, students and parents are really getting into it and, as I play guitar and lead from the front area, I see Joshua in a conversation with TC. Now, TC was notorious among the youth group and church because he was the classic “it should be like the good ole days” guy at this church. Any change, anything different, anything that stretched us and TC was grumbling. (And sometimes yelling at me in front of the youth group. But that is a different story.)

So Joshua and TC are talking. Now, I am singing and worshiping and couldn’t hear what is going on. But essentially what I saw went something like this:

TC says something. Joshua replies. TC says something else, clearly agitated. Joshua says something else. TC starts talking with his whole body, clearly immensely frustrated. Joshua pulls out his Bible, reads TC something. TC goes ballistic and leaves.

So we finish the service and things were great. Afterwards, I ask Joshua what happened. And the story essentially goes like this:

In the middle of a worship song, TC came up to Joshua and asked that Joshua put his shoes back on. Joshua politely refused and went back to worshiping. TC tried to explain to Joshua that “good kids” wore shoes. Joshua again refused. TC begins berating Joshua for not wearing his shoes indoors and for desecrating the church fellowship hall, etc. Joshua pulled out his Bible, did an short Bible study on Exodus 3, where God calls Moses to remove his shoes because the ground he is on is holy. Joshua explain that for him in these moments of worship, it was holy and he was choosing to do likewise. At that point, TC wigged out on him and Joshua ignored him.

So on that day I was reminded that wisdom isn't an age dependent quality and that we should be careful because sometimes youth can lead us. And for what it’s worth- the next time the youth band led worship, we opened with a killer version of “We are Standing on Holy Ground” without instruments that led into Matt Redman’s “Holy Moment.”


At 7:16 AM , Anonymous kim said...

amazing story! I love it when the teens of the world stand up for themselves and rock the world!

At 8:29 AM , Blogger Mamakomeere said... rebel you.

At 11:05 PM , Blogger gavoweb said...

great story..


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