This past month we kicked off our Jr. and Sr. High youth group called RUSH (Short for “Are You Seeking Him”). First we held a kickoff party and then we started our weekly lessons. The first month was dedicated to serving in the name of Jesus. We watched and discussed a series of lessons by Max Lucado entitled “Made to Make a Difference.”
Each week we watched three different stories of people making a difference in the lives of others even though they are only teenagers. The stories ranged from teenagers who started programs that raise millions of dollars to young people who spend time visiting older adults at the nursing home. Over the past month we viewed 12 different teens making a difference.
After each video we had a time of discussion over what we had just seen. Each week we broke off into at least two different groups with girls and guys separate. A couple of weeks we broke it down even more by having the Jr. High kids completely separate. The discussion I was a part of was usually good although limited because I worked with the boys. These discussions gave me a few lessons I thought I would share about the teenagers who attended our group.
1. Most teenagers have good hearts. Most of the young adults who attended really do want to make a difference in the world. They like the idea of helping other people and many are actually involved in some project already. While we often hear about the selfish and angry teens that fill our world, we need to be reminded that there are some really good kids out there.
2. Most teens have very full schedules. While they want to do good for other people many of them have a limited amount of time. They are in school, have practice or games, extra clubs, youth group, homework and trying to have a social life. Their ability to do in the world is limited by their time more than their desire.
3. Teenagers enjoy all ages of people. It seems like every week ended with some discussion of how we could encourage the elderly or help needy children. I challenged the teens to step out do something in the name of Jesus last night and most of them wanted to spend time with older people in some way. They reiterated over and over how much they enjoy the stories, experiences and life of our senior adults. [Side note – if you are a senior adult be sure you make time for our teens. They really do enjoy it.]
4. Everyone has a heart to help somewhere. The teenagers were amazed at the number of ways they could help in the world. Some of them were outraged by modern day slavery while others were challenged to love those outside their circle of friends. It was interesting to see how some of the group really connected to helping in ways that others did not enjoy. I think everyone should find a way to serve that gets their heart pumping and fills them with excitement. What do you have a heart for?
5. All Christian Service is for the Glory of God. See Matthew 5:16. All of us, including teenagers, need to be continually reminded of this truth. Service is not for a line on an application or resume. It is about touching the world for Jesus.
I am sure if you asked the other leaders they would have different insights. Honestly, I really didn’t work with the girls so I have no idea what is going on in their heads. These are the lessons I learned in my time with a bunch of teenage boys.