Why Middle School Boys Give Me Hope

18 02 2010

Middle school boys.

I wish I could say how utterly maddening they are with their boundless energy, their enthusiasm for throwing popcorn at each other (and threatening to dump it on me), their racing around the building chasing each other for no reason, as well as the way they down multiple Snickers bars in one sitting, hijack my computer to show me funny pictures, and fight for a spot next to me to show me their cool new iPhone app…but I can’t.

They’re awesome.

Last night, I had a whole slew of middle school boys show up to my youth event. This was definitely a first–not a single girl in the entire place. Well, I take it back–I did have one girl poke her head in and assess the unruly crowd, before running back across the parking lot to the safety of the nursery and all other teen girls. Luckily, I had three great male leaders ready for the challenge–and boy, was it a challenge when we broke out the chips, candy bars, and cappuccinos for the boys.

We also experienced another first–we all went to the Ash Wednesday service together. Usually, our events are on Fridays and there’s no opportunity for us to attend a church service together. Tonight was an exception, and it was incredible to see how these wild boys behaved in church.

They made me proud.

As a youth leader, you so often don’t see the fruit of your hard work. I can’t even count how many hours I’ve painstakingly researched for events, gathered supplies, organized leaders, set up the rooms, written devotions, and prayed for the kids–over and over and over again. Every once in a while, you get a little glimpse of how God is working in these kids–and that’s enough to keep you plowing ahead.

Sometimes, you get more than a glimpse, as I experience on our middle school mission trip to Tunica, Mississippi, last year. During that week-long experience, I saw the Holy Spirit at work in these kids and leaders so tangibly that it literally brought me to tears just thinking about it. Not a single person left that trip without seeing it and being changed by it.

Last night, I fully expected to see a bunch of rowdy kids whispering to each other and giving each other dead-arms during the service.

Instead, I saw kids–including some who I don’t think have ever stepped foot in church–soaking up every word. I saw boys hungry to read the Bible and those same boys at rapt attention during the sermon, not screwing around at all. I saw these guys discussing the Lord’s Supper together, and figuring out how to download the Bible onto their phones so they could keep reading any time, not punching each other in the arm or playing knuckle wars.

I saw teenage boys actually enjoying church.

Yes, there’s hope for this next generation (as I’ve said many times before). These boys are, well, middle school boys…but they’re more than that. They’re our church–our present and our future.

Don’t let MTV fool you–after all, it’s being run by middle-aged adults with an agenda. These kids are hungry for something deeper than they’re being fed.

And that sure does give me the inspiration to keep going. It’s not hopeless.

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