(Post-script: I had actually written an entry twice as long as this one but WordPress killed it when I tried to save it. So I shall not attempt to regurgitate the original content, but share what I think is most necessary to be read.)
60 minutes. 48 slides. 40 parents. 14 Shepherds. 1 heck of a session. (:
About a month ago, I tweeted this:
Just had an amazing lunch session with another youth pastor and I think I may have found the solution to unite the church as a family! Wooh!
Today, I think the youth ministry took one step closer to realising that vision. And it has everything to do with putting young people together with fathers and mothers.
If you were at R-AGE @ GII’s from 5pm-7pm today, you would have seen me beaming to no end. No, I was not delighted because the team or I have done a good job (though I believe we have!); I was not happy because of the turn-out or the parents’ unexpected responses; instead, I rejoiced because of two things:
- I remained obedient to the vision that God put in my heart about a year ago to network with the parents of my young people, and successfully brought it to pass in the ministry today.
- The session today affirmed my appreciation of the “Family” element in the Grace AG “DNA” and I tapped on it to potentially bring the youth ministry (and maybe the entire church) to the next level.
Not many people know this, but if there was a group of people who I am most reluctant to be with, it would have to be fathers, and to a lesser extent, mothers. Perhaps it is because I do not normally interact with them; or because I did not grow up with a fatherly figure; or because there is a generational gap caused by age; or because I think they secretly scrutinise and criticise the youth ministry; or because I think they have no interest in what I have to say to them; or simply because I do not have much to offer them with my limited life experiences.
However, much to my pleasant surprise, they were not just a receptive group of adults but also an uplifting bunch. I invited them to give us feedback and here are some of their suggestions (and affirmation):
Good session – cleared some doubts. Organise some teens-parents bonding session?
Encourage leaders to communicate with parents if they should notice inconsistent behaviour.
Keep parents posted on the cell material so that the topics could be discussed in the family.
We would avail ourselves as a couple to listen to and help the youths and even their parents.
Host a cell group [at my house] – need not be a cell my child is in.
You guys have done a great job in nurturing the kids in their teenage years especially in their spiritual growth and character building. Keep it up!
And this takes the cake – it made me beam as brightly as a thousand suns:
I am so proud to be a parent of R-AGErs who have grown and matured through this amazing ministry. Keep up the good work! Phil 1:6
Off the top of my head, here are the 10 things I would like to thank God for:
- I expected a turn-out of 20 but nearly 40 parents showed up today.
- I expected a bored, restless and uninterested group but I saw genuine enthusiasm as they participated in the ice-breaking activity and patiently sat through the hour-long ministry update.
- I wished I got a dollar every time I saw a parent nod his or her head with me in agreement.
- I took the risk to give Keith and Yixian the opportunity to (re)present the cell and service elements respectively and they have exceeded everyone’s expectations of them – I am so proud of my beloved proteges!
- I thought Melody and Bradley did a superb job at organising this event with limited time and resources.
- I saw a beautiful scene of “Family” at the ground floor after the session – teenagers, youth leaders and parents freely mingling and chatting with each other over dinner. That’s precisely what a family church is all about!
- I was surprised to see how genuinely keen these parents were to be a part of what R-AGE did, does and will do.
- I could almost see it in their eyes that this session was like an answered prayer for them.
- I expected a tricky Question-and-Answer session but I ended up receiving generous words of encouragement from two fathers. I also received an insight into the real fears, struggles and concerns of parents with teenage children.
- It was beyond my wildest imagination to see at least 35 parents responding to my pseudo “altar call” of committing to being a secret prayer warrior for the youth ministry and its young people.
I shall not go into the details of what transpired today because I do not want to let the cat out of the bag… (: But if you are really keen to find out what happened, here’s all you need to know, whether you are a parent or a teenager:
- We now have one parent committed to interceding for one R-AGE @ GII GGL (who’s not related to them) for six months.
- We made history today by organising the inaugural Meet-The-Folks session; as far as I can remember in my 14 years in Grace AG, and confirmed by parents who have been in Grace AG for more than two decades, this was definitely the first time something like this has happened. And we were all most grateful for it.
- We are all looking forward to the next Meet-The-Folks session, perhaps at the end of the year.
- We have a bunch of parents who sincerely desire to make a greater contribution in their teenagers’ life and ministry.
- We are on the threshold of a new culture being established in Grace AG – championed by its young people.