It has been a booger of a week. Hospitals; surgeries; a stressful in-home visit; preparing three messages and a Bible study; homeschooling; plus spending the night in Richmond away from family (though I had my oldest daughter with me).
In the thread of my last post, a few readers requested that I share a bit about how my preaching engagement went at Banner Christian School. Everything went spectacular and I was immensely impressed with the school. Banner is an actual school, not one of those where they stick a DVD in and a proctor circulates the room. I had a great time meeting the kids, sharing with them, and preaching the Word. I was afraid that a group of 6th - 12th graders would be unruly and I would not be able to keep their attention but they were genuinely interested in what I had to say. Don't get me wrong, they were still a group of obnoxious teenagers!
The day was tailored to foster an environment of unity among the young people. A neighbor Christian school had closed their doors and Banner subsequently picked up about fifty new kids. Afraid an "us/them" mentality might develop among the student body, the faculty discussed and approved the idea of a field day centered around a common theme: unity.
The day began with praise and worship at 7:55 (yawn, I'm a preacher; everyone knows I don't get out of bed until 10:00). At 8:15 I shared a message from Ephesians 4:1-3 and my outline was clever: If you walk as Jesus walks, you will act as Jesus acts and you will love as Jesus loves. I could not believe it, but they listened better than my Sunday morning crowd!
After a brief time of prayer, the kids went outside and had a field day of sorts, all the games team games; no individual competitions: tug-of-war and the human knot were notable. After a packed lunch provided by our hostess (it was the first time I had eaten a fruit cup in years) we gathered back in the sanctuary for another time of Scripture and Bible study. I had been asked to share something about myself during the second study session, so I shared my testimony of how I came to Christ. At the conclusion, the kids applauded and several of the teenage boys in the back pew rolled their fists in the air, vintage Arsenio Hall, grunting "Oooh, oooh, oooh!"
I focused on John 13:34-35 during the Bible study and the radical new standard that Jesus placed on loving one another and how it applies even to teenagers. Afterwards, my daughter and I stayed around for skits the kids had prepared on 1 Corinthians 12. I left much more blessed than those kids. I saw the fresh look of God on their faces and it was a blessing to me to encourage them in their walks with the Lord.I begged them to walk humbly among one another and to look for opportunities to minister to one another. Stick up for one another; defend one another; don't allow the devil an inch in your walks with Christ nor with one another. Avoid cliques; and I assured them that, yes, kids your age can and indeed should minister.
It was exciting to me to be near a group of kids genuinely interested, hoping, and praying God will work through them. I also encouraged them to see the minister inside of them; that it is not a cheesy thing but something God honors. I prayed with them before I left asking that God's hand of blessing would be upon their school and each one of them.
So, like many of my visits with my congregants, I leave having intended to be a blessing but rather come away blessed. Odd, huh?