So, I wrote a little letter to my 8th graders today. It makes me smile to see who they have been, who they are, and imagine who they are becoming. We’re heading to the Goon Docks on May 17th for their 8th grade grad weekend (Typhoon Lagoon – register here) and we’ll be celebrating them then!
Shouting out prayers for the Class of 2018. All of us here at HP Youth (HPNY) like you a lot. You are gorgeously created, unique, and wonderful. Here are my hopes for you.
It’s funny to think about the day I came to Highland Park Church.
You were seven years old, or eight. Bright eyed and looking forward
to youth ministry. These last three years you’ve shown your commitment
to showing up, to growing, and to serving others. You have even cheered each other on even when others
decided not to keep doing some of these things.
I love how the awkward sixth grade insecurity has turned into less awkward 8th grade confidence.
I like how you’re not afraid to come to church looking like you feel, carrying each other
sometimes when you don’t feel like coming in the first place.
Your small group leaders have laughed and cried and bribed you with candy for three years.
And you still love it. I’m going to miss seeing you sit in circles together. But I know those
circles will still be there for you through high school.
I know this, because the adults in our ministry care about you. They care about you because they know that they are significant and have something significant to offer you. I want you to know that we will do our best
to make sure that you always have trusted adults in your life to help you through some of the things
you’ll face in high school.
You aren’t always going to want to trust us. But we will keep fighting for your hearts.
And on the days you decide to continue trusting us, we will listen.
We will have fun–even on those days when tears are thicker than our laughter.
There may be some things we miss, or mistakes we make. Thank for loving us through that.
It seems funny to say that we love you.
Because at this point in your life, you’re not mushy like that.
But we do.
We love you.
And I think you’re brave for opening up your lives to the possibility of God’s grace.
Will you keep doing that?
Even when you doubt it, will you return to it?
We don’t mind your questions.
We do mind when you disappear.
When life gets busy–keep coming back.
You’ll never regret the time you spent seeking Jesus.
Jesus is worth seeking.
Jesus is worth experiencing.
Many of you know this so well by now.
And many of you are spiritually contagious like the flu virus.
So keep doing that.
We have a lot to learn from you.
I want you to know that we are paying attention.
And even though you’re moving on from one ministry to the next.
We aren’t moving on from you.
I pray that the words you have learned from us here at church and in your small groups (and hopefully
made visible in our lives) will continue to sink deep into your hearts. That you’ll be able to reach
for them when you need them most and offer them with others need them most.
I am incredibly blessed to be able to say you were in our youth ministry.
Thank you for loving us back.
With over confidence, with competition, with sheer insanity, with all-nighters, with hashtag everything, with pure joy, with matching outfits, with caffeine induced hyperactivity, with your axe spray, with your genuine hearts for worship, with your compelling leadership, with chaos, with your all-in approach to things you are passionate about.
This step into high school is a big one.
But the one that watches over your steps is a bigger ONE.
And that ONE’s eyes will never leave you.
So, we may not be at your locker every day.
But we will be cheering for you and available if your locker is overwhelming,
or if your parents don’t make it, or if you’re confused or hurt.
We’ll be here. Just call.
My hope is that you’ll shock the world.
With your life.
With your purity.
With your bravery.
With your passion.
With your faith.
With your togetherness.
With your relentless pursuit of Jesus.
Show them what you’re made of.
Shock the world with the something different that is in you.
We’ll be right here–shocking the world with you–one step at a time.
Your Youth Pastor