We had a great meeting last night with our head pastor at Ocean View Methodist, Kyle, and a couple at our church, the Levendalls, who have been leaders forever at OV but are moving to another town at the end of this year. They have been heading up the 'youth' as they call it at our church for MANY years, and now because of the move they have stepped down. When we first came into the church, they had heard we had a background in youth and so the entire church assumed we would step into that role - and they thought wrong! We wanted to be VERY intentional when we came to Ocean View, and make sure we only stepped into ministries and opportunities that we felt called to by God, or else we would be doing too much stuff very poorly! So we have stayed away from the youth and watched from a distance. Over the year I have realized that the youth at our church is a small group and not very enthusiastic about much at all, especially God. Being a teenager in Ocean View is particularly challenging and there are temptations and pressure we couldn't even imagine in the United States. However, some churches in our community have vibrant youth groups, we just don't happen to be one of them. With the Levendall family leaving, we began to pray about taking on this ministry for the coming year and have felt God calling us to these kids. Really what I see is that the church misunderstands the youth because their culture and way of 'doing life' is so alien to the adults in the church, and so they ostracize them and judge them from afar. The church separates itself from the 'bad' youth; in effect it is the new apartheid, or separateness.
We feel very called and passionate to step into this role for a few reasons. We want our church to see God's heart for the youth and to step into their lives in love and action. We want to raise up leaders in the church that are passionate about youth and have a great time reaching out to them. And we want to learn more about the youth and their 'world' that even to us is so foreign and scary. So we had a great meeting last night and learned a lot about the history of the youth at Ocean View Methodist, and at the end of the night said a desperate prayer to God for understanding, wisdom, grace, and vision. We need your prayers as we step into this role over the next year! The youth traditionally meet on Friday nights, and we will continue with those meetings most weeks, also joining with other churches in Ocean View for joint youth services monthly. We will take them on outings, invite them to our house, and just listen and care for them. We will call specific people to be leaders in this ministry and mentor them as they learn to understand this new world alongside of us. And biggest of all, we hope to engage the church with a vision to stop the new apartheid and reach out to the youth of our community. We want our church to be known for vibrant youth who love God, and that we are a church that loves the most broken in this community, which certainly are the youth.
Please pray for us in this new endeavour, and I mean REALLY PRAY! We need it but are very excited about this new chapter. It's something that is in some ways familiar to us, the basics of our ministry, but it will be completely new in so many ways, so we'll see what we find!!
Lots of love,