This past Sunday at the Ministry Fair, I signed up for three areas of ministry in our church. One was the OMEGA team, which has to do with technology and administration. I am already managing the church’s website.

I got a taste of the other two this past evening. The Praise Team practices on Wednesday evenings from 6 to 8 pm. I practiced with them tonight, and even though I can sing well, I felt strangely out of place and out of sync with the rest of the team—actually more like a fish out of water. I plan to attend another practice or two, and pray about the matter, before deciding whether or not this ministry is for me.

The Youth Group also meets on Wednesday evenings from 8:00 to 9:30 pm. Our church has no youth pastor; a team of several adults runs the youth activities. Tonight we played tag outdoors; I tagged out several people right at the beginning, apparently surprising them with a bit of speedy running! But it was enormous fun; I hadn’t done anything like this in years.

Later, indoors, we engaged in a thought-provoking activity. There were three special items in the large room. We had to write down what we thought about the items, then share what we had written. The items were…

  1. An old story book from about 1850, open to a story entitled “Honest John.” The story was about a young boy who found a package and could have kept it for himself but wisely decided against it, choosing instead to be honest.
  2. A framed picture of a lighthouse with a beacon shining over a storm-tossed sea. Two large hands (God’s hands?) were outstretched as if beckoning someone to safety.
  3. Another framed picture; this one portrayed Jesus praying at the Garden of Gethsemane. Light from above (possibly moonlight) gleamed upon his head.

After that, sheets were passed out which listed various things we do in our lives, such as “what we believe,” “where I draw the line,” etc. There were columns across each line to indicate who had the most influence in these things: my parents, my siblings, my friends, my teachers, church/youth group, and TV/music/movies. The people were split into small groups to discuss this, while each person placed an “X” in one or two boxes for each item. Finally the whole group came together to discuss it. It seemed that parents and friends were the greatest influences in the teens’ lives, while church and friends were the greatest influences in the adults’ lives. At some point in a person’s growing up, the focus shifts in most cases from parents to church, as the main influence in decision-making.

The discussion then turned to our earliest thoughts of God as a child. One girl said that she felt that God spoke to her in an audible voice when she was very young. As for me, my earliest thoughts of God were probably the result of attending Sunday school in the 4 and 5 year old class at this very church, under the teaching of Mrs. Francis Spaulding (who passed away in 1999). When her name was mentioned, a couple of faces lit up. Both of them were great-granddaughters of the late Mrs. Spaulding.

All in all, the atmosphere at the youth meeting was very warm and inviting to me. My son, Joe, certainly enjoyed having me there, and the other youth and adults seemed glad to have me there as well. And I certainly was enriched by the experience. I will definitely be there at every opportunity (sometimes I have to work on Wednesday nights) for the next little while.