Something crazy happens in Luke 15 – something which I believe is critical for middle school students to understand and for us to embrace. We got to experience it this past summer during our first trip to BigStuf Summer Camps (www.bigstuf.com) So the whole week they preached Jesus – which was awesome. And they set us up for something really cool – something I think is often missed, and as I have been spending time personally and with students in the Gospel of Luke – I realized it is something very cool to embrace.
If you read each of the three parables in Luke 15, which are the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the prodigal son – each end with a resounding theme. Each end with something being lost finally being found – but the response to it being found is what I believe is critical to middle school ministry. The words “rejoice with me” sum up the first two parables, while the third ends with the father throwing a party. And what was so cool was that at BigStuf – they had us do just that. For students who accepted Jesus for the first time – we rejoiced! Together – as a group! We danced, we yelled, we crowd-surfed, we chest-bumped! We rejoiced! And it was such a cool experience!
As I reflect I realize we cheer – for sports games, for musicians, for a lot of things. How often do we cheer, yell, jump, dance for our students?
What would it look like if in our ministries when a student made a huge decision – whether first time or another step – we rejoiced with them? What if we made a habit of shouting every time a student made a step – big or small – in their faith. That we took more time as a community to focus on rejoicing together for the steps we take – first time or not – in our walk with Christ. The great feeling knowing a middle school student is surrounded by those rejoicing in their walk, cheering for them, dancing with them, jumping with them – that would be something.
Let’s dream together! What are some tangible ways we can set up moments to rejoice with our students as they strive to follow Jesus?