Monday, May 22, 2006

Tangible NYC Impact

One of our Seniors that went to NYC with us last weekend wrote me to ask if we could sit down and talk a bit. The gist is that she feels led to go back to NYC in the fall and do some ministry, nothing like what most graduating seniors decide to do around here. And that therein was one of the goals of the weekend - that we exposed kids to a different reality and that they decided to do something about it. I'll tell you more about her later.

I have a few of these types of conversations every year and every one of them is a lot of fun. Kids are excited about possibilities, trying something different, being significant for the Kingdom. These kinds of decisions, even for a short term, are unconventional, difficult to make and against the status quo. [Seth's post here is along the same lines.] I've learned a few things from these conversations.

First, and not to be a stick-in-the-mud, only about 25% of these conversations every work out. Execution is difficult. It's difficult to find connections, live in a new place, convince parents. It takes a lot of perseverance to get the logistics done, and then you have to live with it. Of those ones that actually go and do something like this, their lives are forever changed. God brands their hearts. They go on to live lives that are extraordinary. You know that whole Chinese proverb - every journey begins with a first step - and all.

Secondly, it's important to make sure that students are not deciding in an alternate state of reality - the mission trip high. A weekend in NYC is great - but doesn't look anything like living there day in and day out. It's the same idea like mission trip romances - they seldom last. [Not to mention how bad they are for the team, the hosts, the people you minister to, the youth group back home... ok I'll stop now.] Decisions need to be made with clarity and not falsely based on the high of an experience.

Finally, we should be helping these kids think through their passions and gifts. We need to set them up to be successful in the way God has wired them. A plan to live in Bangkok for a semester is only part of a good plan. The rest of the plan should help them live out their gifts and calling. Sometimes a spiritual gifts test is a good start. [I've used this Spiritual Gifts Test before.]

Photo: Some of our Seniors [and one of their leaders], van ride to NYC, May 2006.

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