I just had one of those weekends that makes me think this is the best job in the world. We went up to Lake Rotoiti with 24 young people, and the Bishop of Nelson (Richard) and his wife (Hilary). The idea being that over the course of the weekend Richard would get to know some of the young people, they would here some of his heart and passion for the church and hopefully they would be able to input into Richard's ministry - giving a youth voice to the future direction of the diocese.
The original idea was that this would be a retreat for 20 -30 somethings, to which I said that's a great idea, but there aren't that many of them in the region and we have a large group of teenagers which unless they get significant input will drift away to churches with lots of C's in their names.
So the group which had an average age of 15 met the Bishop, played PS2 Guitar Hero, got beaten on sing star and Buzz by me and sat and listened to Richard, talked with Richard and I hope gained a sense of being part of something bigger.
Friday night was introductions, Saturday morning I lead worship with some reflections and creative prayers, the scape goat stone confession seemed to hit home, with people writing their confessions on a stone and then tossing them into the lake (where no fishing is aloud), to remind them of how God gives us a fresh start - and forgiveness really is forgiveness, it is not to be dragged up again. Richard followed this by talking about conversion, when does it happen, what difference does it make, he followed Simon Peter's story, and noticed how it doesn't line up that well with the standard repentance prayer - but that the whole thing is a journey, closer to God at times, away from God at others. For the average Christian teenager who I have heard said gives their life to the Lord at least 20 times, it was a relief -its', not that they have necessary back slidden but maybe that is part of the journey. Saturday evening was questions and answers - how can i be involved in the church being a major one, how can i share my faith being just as close a second (Ed Stetzer has some good fact and figures on this subject). One thing that was apparent was a desire for these young people to do the right thing, something i have seen demonstrated again and again over this year. Sunday morning being Pentecost focused on praying for people to be filled with the Spirit - coming from a pente back ground it was nice to have seen it done without hype or force but just gently. Sunday too focused on how we here God speaking, and how we know his will, again something that is a huge issue for the average teen.
Well the young people enjoyed it, I enjoyed it and I suspect the Bish got a bit of a buzz out of it, particularly because our region is not one where people 'kiss the bishop's ring" so to speak, leadership and authority is earned int eh hearts and minds of the people through the words, action and character of the leader - I think Richard proved himself able of commanding the young people's respect and proved also that I believe this region has a bright future, not just in terms of ministry to adults but to Young people also.