the end of an era. June 29, 2006
For two years, Aaron and I worked with the junior high kids at our old church. I had the same small group of girls both years, and our leaving the church coincided with their moving up to the high school youth group. We were new to the group at the same time, and we all found our places together. Mine turned out to be at a different church, but the struggle was the same. I watched them grow from nervous sixth-grade girls who were afraid of junior high school to confident almost-ninth graders ready to take on the world. Or, at least, high school.
Then we changed churches, and my regular contact with them was drastically cut. Iâ€™ve kept up with most of them through myspace and email, but Iâ€™m no longer a part of their daily lives. Nor should I be. But I still feel responsible for them, that itâ€™s partly my job to look out for them and be accessible to them and make sure theyâ€™re doing okay. Maybe it still is. But when does ministry end? Does it end?
Last week our old church went to youth camp, and a friend of mine was the ninth-grade girlsâ€™ counselor. As she was telling me about the games they played and the drama that came out as it only can at camp, I started to get sad. Part of it was just because of the happy attachment I have to camp in general, and being at camp with those girls in particular. Part of it was my fear that theyâ€™re not being properly looked after. And part of it was that we havenâ€™t quite found our place in our new youth group.
I donâ€™t know where Iâ€™m going with this, reallyâ€¦ Iâ€™m just working through the transition. Youth ministry is so personal, and you form deep attachments to kids really quickly. Itâ€™s hard to stop cold turkey, and Iâ€™m learning that itâ€™s hard to just pick back up with a new group of kids. What if you donâ€™t connect with them? What if they donâ€™t like you? What if this isnâ€™t as good as the last thing you had?
Our last situation was a great youth group in a church that was wrong for us in every way. Now weâ€™re in a church we love with a fledgling youth group. Sometimes at our meetings, itâ€™s a one-to-one youth-to-leader ratio. But theyâ€™re growing, and learning how to be a youth group, and I think Aaron and I can be a big help in that. Iâ€™m excited. Itâ€™s just that in starting this new chapter in our lives, weâ€™re ending the last one. And that makes me sad.