Well, Orbit was tonight and it was pretty phenomenal. We had around 60 to 70 people participating, with 10 small groups participating. Most of all them had a blast going out and serving in the community. There were so many great stories, and so many kids came back in to the Warehouse just pumped about the time that they had. Most of the leaders really enjoyed themselves and, I think, can see themselves leading their groups into a small service project, after going through different ones tonight. And that was our overall goal.
Each project was delivered via a series of larger to smaller envelopes, with instructions on the inside of each. So each next set of instructions was on a smaller envelope on the inside. The idea was to add some suspense and progression to the projects, and I think the leaders really liked that.
The envelopes also included a pack of Orbit gum. Funny huh?
Below are the project lists, with their specific steps. I've listed what age group did what as well as adding some commentary to their actual orbit.
Project #1 11th grade boys/12th grade girls
Troops (2 groups)
1. need to provide small boxes, preprinted labels, descriptions of troops from GCC
2. go to the grocery store and fill the boxes with some cool stuff
3. pack and fill the boxes with your letters and stuff. Someone else will fill the boxes.
(this one also included address labels and specific lists from some of our troops)
Project #5 10th grade girls
1. Go to the closest dollar store.
2. Go buy as many balloons that say 'Get well soon' as your group can afford.
3. Go to Howard County Hospital and hand them out to people that are visiting as they come in. Don't be afraid to talk to people about whom they are visiting and why you are handing out balloons.
They were actually able to go in to the pediatric ward and hand out balloons to kids.
Project #6 12th grade boys
1. Buy water
2. Buy hamburgers at a drive thru - buy one for your cashier, but only if they want one.
3.Drive around the Inner Harbor looking for homeless people. If you find any, give
them some water and a hamburger or two. Don't be afraid to talk to them if you want.
The bought 40 hamburgers and the cashier gave them $10 off.
Project #10 10th grade boys
Glowing the Bowling Alley
1.Go buy as many glow sticks as you can
2.Go to the closest bowling alley
3.Give out your glowsticks to as many kids as you can. Don't be afraid to get into a conversation with them about why you are doing what you are doing. If it comes up, you can mention something about the light of the world (that would be Jesus)
This one didn't go so well. No one wanted to glow sticks.
Actually, I spoke with the leader this morning and he said it went great. He cursed me under his breath when he got the first envelope that talked about glow sticks. (He was actually my dteam co-leader for 4 years, so its a sign of affection.) They got in and actually hung out with bowlers - it was league night. His guys pretty much just went up to people and handed them a glow stick and said "Jesus is the light of the world." So, the leader is planning on a more in depth debrief this week.
Project #12 8th grade boys
Caroling in old town Ellicott City
1. Go to someones house that has a computer and a printer and print out the words to 5-6 Christmas carols. Have enough copies for every 2 people in your group (you can share)
2.Go buy a big box of candy canes, if you can find one. If no candy canes, buy any kind of Christmas candy. Buy a big can of bubbles.
3.Go to old town Ellicott City. Walk down main street as a group, singing Christmas
carols. When people stare at you funny, give them a candy cane. Use Tony's bubble machine, but don't lose it or sell it.
I forgot to give them my bubble machine, so instead they bought candy and flowers. They sang Christmas songs for a while and then sang praise choruses. They got lots of strange looks.
Project #15 8th grade girls
1. Get a copy of the church directory, and go find a phone.
2. Call X Y. Ask her if she needs some help taking down her Christmas decorations.
3. Go through the church directory, one letter at a time. Pick one person, and call them and ask them if they need help taking their Christmas decorations down. "We are a small group from LC/CpR. Do you need any help taking down your Christmas decorations (or something like that.)" Do as many as you can before time is up.
They actually found one of their girls in the group whose family they helped take down their decorations.
Project #16 6th grade boys
Collect toiletries from hotels
1. Make a list of all the hotels in Columbia. You can use the phone book or the www.
2. Go to as many hotels as you can (the closer is better) and ask them if you can
collect extra unused toiletries (soap, shampoo, etc.) for a homeless shelter.
3. Drop them off at Grassroots.
They went to 7 hotels and got this huge box of soap/shampoo that they delivered.
Project #17 11th grade girls
Babysit a family
1. Go buy some ice cream and stuff to make ice cream sundaes.
2. Drive to the YYYY. yyy, off of Oakland Mills Road.
3. Go inside, they are expecting you. Babysit their kids for a little bit. While you are there, clean up their kitchen for them. Make sundaes for the kids.
I actually did this one with the junior girls since they needed a driver. Really fun.
Project #18 fusion young adults
The food Court
1. See how much money you all have collectively together. Can anyone get more?
2. Go to the food court in Columbia Mall. Split up into pairs. Choose someone that has a little bit of nerve.
3. In your pairs, see how many people will let you sit down and have dinner with them if you pay for their meal. When time is up, get a final count of all of those people. How many people? How many 'significant conversations'?
The fusion kids loved it. They had such a great time. They got lots of pictures with the people they sat with, funny.
When all the teams came back in, we had some snacks. Then we did a little sharing time, where they talked about what they did. It was cool to see kids respond to other groups and what and how they did things. After that, one of our junior guys led a little worship time, him, his guitar and a microphone. It was so pure and authentic.
A few other interesting tidbits:
- One car load of kids asked their leader if we were going to do this again next Friday.
- The Fusion kids felt like they could easily do something like this again instead of going to a movie together.
- Someone said we should do it again next weekend but just rotate the projects.
- Met a junior girl for the first time and we got to talking about missions. She thinks she wants to go into missions and I asked her if she had ever heard of the "10/40 window". She said no. Exciting to be able to engage kids like her, who have the desire, but just need to have someone help them with their worldview.
Well, I'm certainly spent. Thanks for those of you that prayed about it, I think we met the goal, of giving the small group leaders another tool centered around getting outside of the church and serving and impacting the community.
(I will probably have more to say about this in the next few days... so for those of you reading thru syndication, you will probably see the posting again. I will try to tag my updates at the bottom though.)
What did we learn:
- We gave these kids zero details about this event. Seriously, I mean zero details. Even the leaders had no idea what any of the projects were going to look like. The SPACE team gave some great suggestions, but they didn't really have any idea either, I was really the only one that knew all the details. And we still had around 70 kids come out knowing the whole purpose was to serve in the community. Maybe we haven't called kids to a high enough purpose and revolution. (I'm not talking about youth ministry in general per se, but I'm talking about our own context.)
- The projects were a good mix in terms of money that had to be spent. On Friday, two middle school parents called and wondered about details. One of them had no idea that their student needed money (a detail the small group leaders knew about.) But thinking about the financial outlay, the projects were switched around at the last minute (and I do mean last minute) so that younger teams would be doing things that didn't cost money. It made sense, except that it should have made sense sooner. My wife was the one that clubbed it into my head... The essence is that projects and their financial requirement need to be tied with the age of the teams.
- In a ministry that serves some four to five hundred kids a week, our numbers for this event may seem low. It isn't a numbers game. But it is a matter of proportions. When Jesus' calling to serve only affects a certain percentage of our communities (even if they are students) versus the majority, we have more work to do. If the ideas of serving others, sharing our faith authentically, or listening to issues of the world only strike a few of our 'Christians', our calling is clear. And the work isn't a turn key thing, rather it is a slow growth, cultivate-plant-reap, marathon style of encouragement, teach and model.
- I can plan these things until I toast myself. But when a small group leader says, "I can do this with my group on my own," that's when we begin to see transformation. Transformation from a group of students that meet specifically to feed themselves to a group that is tied from the bond of wanting to be in God's movement of the world, touching those who are distanced from Jesus.
- Some of the students told me that there were some rumors about the event circulating this week. Isn't that great?!!?? We have become more than just a little project. That's the best kind of publicity isn't it - kids spreading rumors about the event before it happens. And the rumor was that - this is really great - that we were going to all go to the Mall and evangelize, and then come back to the Warehouse to have worship. HA!
- In relation to the above, I would like to publicize the proud fact that we haven't used one single tract in any SPACE event this school year so far. It's a core principle for the rest of this year.
These SPACE events are usually a good opportunity to bring out emerging leaders. (Please note that this has nothing to do with the ongoing conversation/debate about the emerging church, Emergent, or anything related.) I feel like I should always be on the lookout for three types of leaders:
1. Any students that feel specifically drawn to SPACE, in terms of kids that will help with the leadership, especially 9th or 10th graders. We need to keep the flow of students for SPACE crew, drawing from younger kids in the ministry.
2. Any older kids (post high school) that we can tap to help with summer mission teams. Just this morning, one of the college kids that came Friday night mentioned that he wanted to get together with me to talk more about missions as a career after he graduates.
3. Kids that can support us in other various ways. The first and foremost is worship leaders. On Friday, one of our junior guys came and did a worship set. He is one that has told me that he would love to do that for any SPACE event in the future. (For the people that came out especially to help, I gave them a CD with a Rob Bell message on it.) Another key area is in the arts - video and graphic arts. I would love to have someon that can help with videography, since so much of students' lives are media related. And someone who can do some graphic arts work for SPACE, including logos, flyers, etc.
I know that SPACE must rely on a team of people, and that no one person can do it all themselves. The difficulty lies in the dynamic of catalyzing emerging leaders that see the movement, the vision, the passion. It's not enough to have hands and feet doing the right thing, the key is in the heart.
This is my final update about Orbit. It was great, but I'm done being fascinated by it... Tonight we packed up all the care packages for the troops. Two groups had these projects, and the actual project was driven by some correspondence with some of the troops from GCC and lists of soldiers from GCC that are in service. It really could have been an event on its own. We had about 12 packages, containing all kinds of useful stuff. The groups that did this one had a good time with it, which I'm glad for. The intent of the projects was to make them very relational - ie. kids HAVING to talk to strangers. In this project, it wasn't so. But they did write letters to the troops, so in a sense, that could be a stretch for a student.
Here is a picture of the boxes. The international ones also have custom forms that were filled out for them - an important detail if you are trying something like this.