Sunday Funday

As the youth leader I often struggle with ideological practice of having everything we do relate back to a religious idea or practice. I will ask myself, “Does this further the Kingdom of God?” Most often the answer is a resounding YES! But as I strolled through the Wal-Mart aisles picking up dish soap, a few buckets, and tarp – I couldn’t help but think that the 45-foot-super-awesome-slip-and-slide might just be for our own enjoyment.

Ultimately, we could have connected our journey downhill to the concepts of hope, courage, and God’s divine protection. Like – I hope I don’t break my leg, or I will take courage and get a running start, or “Oh Mercy!” this is super fast (Jesus, take the wheeeeeeel ♫)! We could have also used it as an invitation tool to help facilitate other youth joining our group – which we tried! There were a few neighborhood children that came over to see what we doing but I think they were too overwhelmed at all of the awesomeness that was taking place and really only came over to get a closer look. A small number of my other neighbors also came outside to openly view our craziness, but most stayed indoors away from all of our giggling and screaming – I imagine they were all peeking out of their windows like Jimmy Stewart’s character L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries in the movie Rear Window, waiting for one of us to slip up (pun intended).

It wasn’t all fun games though… well… yes it was. There was pizza, water balloons, water slingshots (although they didn’t work too well), card games, some sidewalk art, and of course the biggest slip-and-slide in Charlottesville (at least for today), and after all was said and done there were only a few grass scratches and bumped knees – but as I explained to the kids, that’s how you know you had fun! And honestly, that’s really what it was all about – having fun. And you know what else? Having fun is great. I highly recommend it. In fact, I’m fairly sure 9 out of 10 doctors recommend having fun on a daily basis.

Now, if only we could find some biblical basis for all the fun we had…

(insert dramatic pause)

Boom. King Solomon comes through.

Yes, according to rabbinic tradition, the book Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon in his old age and I quote:

Ecclesiastes 8:15: So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun. (NLT)

There it is.

“Have fun.”

So much of what our youth have to look forward is not always going to be fun – being an adult is hard. You can ask one, I’m sure they’ll tell you all about it! Jobs, money, bills, work, etc. Think about the first things that adults talk about when they see each other! They are very rarely in the market for having some fun. There’s a great quote from the children’s book The Little Prince written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry that illustrates the adult conundrum:

“Grown-ups love figures. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?” Instead, they demand: “How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.

If you were to say to the grown-ups: “I saw a beautiful house made of rosy brick, with geraniums in the windows and doves on the roof,” they would not be able to get an idea of that house at all. You have to say to them: “I saw a house that cost $400,000.” Then they would exclaim: “Oh, what a pretty house that is!”

Now, I’m only 30 years old – but this already hits home with me and speaks to how I sometimes view the world.

Thankfully, I have a job – well, 2 jobs actually – that keep me young. I am regularly reminded of the necessity to not take things too seriously or get too upset about the adult method of doing things and I am so very thankful that in this moment, on this day – we can fly down the hill and roll over backwards with laughter. Thankful that we are able to create memories that will bring a smile to our face when we’re feeling down and when we’re working hard – because, ultimately, God does want us to work hard. I dare say he needs us to work hard – we are told that the mountain is steep and the path is narrow.

So for now, while we can, let’s have some fun.

Funday 1 Funday 2

Funday 3

 

Ceiling Tiles

Tonight we started a new tradition. I gave each youth permission to take one of the ceiling tiles in the youth room and personalize it with their names and a bible verse. The bible verse could be one that applies to their lives right now, one that they hope will apply in the future, or it could be a “birth verse.” A birth verse is kind of a kitschy idea but the premise involves aligning your birthday with a chapter and verse from a book in the bible. For example, my birthday is September 1st, so I was looking at the first verse of a ninth chapter (9:1). I settled on Romans 9:1 – I speak the truth in Christ – I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit. I really identified with this one as it touches on my role as the Youth Coordinator and how I approach my relationships with all of the kids. It’s also a lot better than Nehemiah 9:1 which reads- On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads.

Now, I recognize that there may be a few critics of the youth personalizing anything in the church, but I assure you this was not an unseemly undertaking. You see, over the last year and a half I have often heard Michael preach or talk about the history of our church. I have repeatedly heard the story of how the bank moved in and our congregation had to ban together to raise the money to purchase the church. I heard about the decision to stay and be UNIVERSITY Baptist Church and how the congregation felt there was a purpose and calling to be located so close to the campus (grounds). Today, I heard Michael preach on the importance of the cornerstone and it reminded me of the connection that so many in our congregation have to this building. They are invested in it (literally). They have a history here. Their children were born into this church community and have been nurtured to adulthood only to then have their own children now become a part of the congregation. The walls and pillars are richly coated with the memories of the saints that have gone before us and many in the church experience the same comfort and solace that we would expect to find in our own homes.

So, what does this have to do with the youth taking the ceiling apart….? Simply this: The youth are making their own memories. The way I see it is – there’s no great crisis or concern that will underlie or define their church experience (hopefully). They will grow up, go to college, and possibly move away to accomplish great and wonderful things. We hope that they will remember their time at UBC with fondness but in reality they may not have the same connection to this church that some our members have had in the past, or still have today! The world is getting smaller and we can no longer expect our youth to always come back and pick out a permanent pew for the rest of their lives. In fact, if we look at our current membership – we can already identify this gap forming.

By allowing our youth to personalize the ceiling tiles, we are helping them become invested in this building. They get to say, “Look. That’s me.” When they set off into the world, there will always be a piece of them that will remain here. There will always be a marker of their time, and a tangible connection to this part of their lives that will forever connect them to this place, and by extension, to the people that are here. I want the Emily Morrises, John Browns, Audrey Millers, and Thea Cheuks to all bring their own children back to that 3rd floor and show them their tiles. I want them to be able to tell their children about what they did, and who they knew, and how God was with them through all of it! I want people to visit our church and see that we have a living history – one that’s not only retold around the tables on a Wednesday night, but one that is actively happening. I want new families to come in and see that ceiling, and know that their child will get a tile, that their child will make memories here, that their child will know a faith community, and their child will forever be connected to the family and house of God!

This is their cornerstone. This is a way for them to identify and recognize that they are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and God’s special possession.

I would like to encourage everyone to visit the 3rd floor when we’re done. If you’ve ever been a member of the UBC youth, then there’s a tile for you. Even if you weren’t in the youth group – if you have found family here at UBC, or if you want to create a memory – then there’s a tile for you too. Come see what God is doing and come see how his word is speaking to the hearts and minds of our youth.

In Christ,

Phil

The Youth’s March Mission Madness Trip

Every spring the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Virginia sponsors about 4 different mission weekends at locations all over the state. This year, our youth attended the one located in Blacksburg, VA.

FRIDAY:

When we arrived on Friday evening we were greeted with the castle-like campus of Virginia Tech, which prompted many UVA inspired comments and discussions from the youth about what we would all be wearing tomorrow (i.e. a Cavalier shirt or something else that was specifically blue and orange instead of maroon and orange)! We made our way up the street to Blacksburg Baptist Church which sits directly across from the Tech campus in a very much the same way our own church sits in relation to the UVA campus.  We stepped out of our cars and stretched before being welcomed and herded down into their fellowship hall to an outstanding dinner of burgers and hotdogs. Everyone from our group was really just excited to see that we wouldn’t be eating pizza and we quickly devoured our meals. The evening then moved into a time of worship and we gathered in the sanctuary for prayer and song. We were also excited to meet our work team members and get into our work groups for the next day.

SATURDAY:

Once our rooms at the Super 8 motel were sorted out, we all pretty much went to sleep, but since the first night in a hotel is always the roughest there were a few that ventured out early in the morning to track down a Starbucks. We traveled back to Blacksburg Baptist and heard a very moving story from Mark Snipes that provided some perspective for the day. One of the big take-aways from his sermon was that “it’s not about reaching down to help someone up to where you are, but recognizing that we are all equal in the eyes of God and it’s about meeting people where they are to be Christ to them when and where they need it.”

Our Youth were split up into 6 different groups and sent out to worksites all around the great Blacksburg and Christiansburg area. For most of the day our youth worked on the following projects:

  • Wheelchair Ramp/Platform – An elderly woman had been “trapped” in her home for about 2 years and had no means to get outside her house without some serious assistance. She had paid someone else to build her a ramp about a year ago and while they delivered some materials to her yard, they never even started on the construction. Working alongside a “Hearts & Hammers” program we built a ramp from her side door down into her yard. Another group worked to dig out a reasonably sized hole so that a concrete pad could be poured that would allow another woman to easily access transportation at her home. They also did a large amount of cleaning and yard work.
  • Retreat Center / Households – There is always much work to be done when any outdoor area is opened again in the spring, and our youth worked to paint and clean up a retreat center for the local community to use. There are also many people that need some assistance with painting, yard work, organizing, or general cleaning tasks around their homes and our youth were there to help them as well.
  • Pregnancy Center – We sent a group to a Pregnancy counseling center where they did a lot of cleaning and organizing. They also helped in stuffing envelopes and assisting with the mailing of information and materials that will hopefully be helpful to women who are struggling with difficult decisions.

Our Saturday concluded with a very filling pasta dinner and another worship service. Once back at the hotel we all debriefed and shared our experiences from the day and then most of us went to bed….   J

SUNDAY:

Sunday morning we rolled out to our final service at Blacksburg Baptist, worshiped with their 8:30 morning service members and made our way back home. A very successful trip for all involved!

It is only through the continuing support of the members at UBC that these types of opportunities can be offered to our youth. Not only are they growing and moving along their own spiritual path but they are also positively affecting the lives of all the people they interact with along the way. Thank you for your support of the youth ministry!

 

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Youth Ministry Meeting for all Parents & Youth

There will be a brief meeting — 12:15 – 12:45 — Following the church service on January 12th. We’ll meet in the Choir Room on the 2nd floor to discuss a few things about 2014 and turn in/fill out updated Youth Activities Consent forms. The forms can be found at the bottom of the Youth’s Church Webpage if you wish to complete it ahead of time.

 

Youth Christmas Party

Sunday, December 15, 6-8 pm
Youth Christmas Party at the Woodson’s

For our gift exchange this year I would ask that we do a Dollar Store Christmas! This means that everyone is allowed to spend $1 and should bring the greatest thing they get for a buck!   Questions?  Contact Phil Woodson.

Youth Shopping Day

Saturday, December 14, 10 – 12:00 am

We will meet at Fashion Square Mall – Red Robin Entrance. This is time for the youth to do their own holiday shopping & we will also be shopping for our snowflake kids – so youth should bring funds for personal and charity purchases!   Questions?  Contact Phil Woodson.

You can pick your friends…

There was, admittedly, some initial hesitation in proposing a combined youth/parent lock-in, but as I watched 5 adults slowly dancing around our Senior Pastor – who was wrapped up in a sleeping bag – gently showering him in colorful feathers – all to the sound of an extremely cheesy version of Kumbaya playing softly in the background, all of my misgivings melted away. Regrettably, this was also the point in the evening where my camera died.

The night of the youth/parent lock-in, however, was not all fun and games – mostly fun and games – but not all fun and games. Here’s a rundown of our evening and the next morning.

The night began with some fun and games – imagine that – and then we split up into three different groups to plan our worship service for the next morning. Each group was tasked with putting together and leading a song, a prayer, and worship session about family.

  • Group 1 put together a great presentation about how even though some of our family members are not always physically nearby – they affect our lives in so many positive ways and there is always a part of them that stays with us.
  • Group 2 was funny to watch as they completely expected Michael to lead everything since he’s the Senior Pastor! Needless to say, he was a great leader in that group and certainly didn’t do all of the work for them. They ultimately put together a great moment where they each talked about the unconditional love and acts of kindness that we receive from our family members
  • Group 3 – Had a bit of a bumpy start as they struggled to find any positive examples of family in the bible. Abraham and Isaac – EESH! Cain and Able – OUCH! Lot offering up his daughters! Esau and Jacob! In the end we recognized that the bible provides us with a somewhat realistic view of familial dysfunction. Each of us is imperfect and will always fall short in showing the same love that we receive from God.  Being part of family can be, and often is, a difficult thing. Thankfully, we have a wonderful loving Father in heaven that can, and always does, provide us with endless grace and love.

After worship planning we put together and decorated the lanterns that were on display in the Sanctuary this past Sunday. While we were decorating the lanterns we each shared stories of our family traditions, some difficulties that relate to our position in our families, and some our favorite things about our family members who were with us that evening. Once we completed our lanterns, we took them out and lit them on the steps of the church. Each lantern was decorated with some of our stories, words of encouragement, and even our personal struggles. It was our hope that the people passing by would see our lanterns, read our messages, and find comfort, encouragement, and a relatable story.

Following our lantern time we spent a good hour and half engaged in a sardines marathon. For those of you who have never played sardines let me assure you that it’s not an eating contest! Sardines is a game where a partner group goes to hide somewhere in the church, and it’s the other partner groups’ job to find the hiding pair and then join them in their hiding spot – packing in tight together like sardines – until everyone has found them. This is all done in the dark and no one is allowed to use their phone lights or turn on any lights in the church. The adults kept saying that they had the best places to hide, but were never part of a winning group – so we might have to give them a chance to hide at another lock-in!

At around 11:00 p.m. we spent some time back in the bible discussing the importance of the various genealogical references (Genesis 5, 1 Chronicles, Matthew 1, etc.) and how your family history was used to help identify who you were, what you did, what your were like, and where you were from. This was followed by Super-Secret-Fun-Time otherwise known as Kids vs. Parents! This was definitely one of the highlights of the evening and I have to hand it to the parents here because it was way past all of their bedtimes but they all did a great job with the skits, challenges, and finally – trivia! I don’t remember the final question but it may have been something about the legitimacy of Owl Cafes – where people can get a cup of coffee and pet live owls or it may have been about the legality of Kentucky’s bathing laws (everyone must take a bath at least once per year)! Our evening started to wind down after this and finally wrapped up with a few more rounds of sardines and a movie.

The next morning began with a breakfast of waffles and sausage biscuits, some quiet time with God in the sanctuary, and then we were off to worship. We hopped in the cars and made our way over to the Monticello Trails at the base of Carter Mountain. A few other parents joined and/or rejoined our group and we made our way up the short distance to the outdoor amphitheater where each group led us in their worship sessions!

All-in-all I would say a great time was had by everyone. I really appreciated the help and support of all the participating parents and it was great to see the youth interacting and guiding their parents through the norms of our lock-in environment. I can totally see this youth/parent lock-in becoming an annual event!

-Phil

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Children’s Christmas Shop

Wednesday, December 11, 6:15 , where children can purchase gifts for their family members  for just 50¢ each.   Proceeds to go UBC Missions.

We are collecting small, attractive gift items (for men, women, and children) that our children can purchase as Christmas gifts for their families.  Bring your donations to the Preschool Department by Sunday, December 8.

 

 

 

UBC Missions and Community Outreach Fair

Sunday, November 10, After Worship

This coming Sunday UBC will be hosting our first Missions/Community Outreach Fair after worship.  Representatives from eleven community agencies and organizations will be stationed in the Fellowship Hall to share information about their mission.  This is a wonderful opportunity for you, your family, and/or your small group to get involved with one these organizations to make a difference in our community.  Light refreshments will be served.

For more information on the participating agencies click the accompanying link.
Alliance for Interfaith  Ministries (AIM)    aimcville.org
Advancing Native Missions (ANM)    advancingnativemissions.com
Big Brothers, Big Sisters    bbbsocbr.org
Blue Ridge Area Food Bank    blue-ridge-area-food-bank-thomas-jefferson-area-branch
Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA)    fca.org
Habitat for Humanity    cvillehabitat.org
Hope House    macaa.org/programs/hopehouse
Love INC (Love In the Name of Christ)    loveinccville.org
Meals on Wheels   cvillemeals.org
Ronald McDonald House     rmhcharlottesville.org
WorkSource   worksourceva.org

Yo’ Mama.

With Jubilate out of town for UVA’s fall break – the youth resorted to our finest foraging skills and made our way down the corner to Christian’s Pizza (see picture). It’s difficult to feed 14 people for $6/person and fresh hot pizza is always hard to turn down. Aside from the pizza promotion – I would like to take moment to address the catchy headline that I’m sure brought you to this post.

Tonight’s Youth Real Life topic was: “Yo’ Mama… and probably Yo’ Daddy

Yes, tonight we talked about our parents. We talked about the things we liked and loved about our wonderful providers and about the things that occasionally seem to creep under our skin… Needless to say, it was very engaging and lively discussion, all of which I have promised not to reveal too much of – but, I would like to highlight a bit of what was covered.

Indeed there are many positive aspects being kids that were offered forth – food, housing, a protective environment, an ever-present source of financial support, and LIFE ITSELF were all major points of agreement.  Likewise, we were able to concur on some of the common not-so-pleasant aspects of being an offspring – feeling ignored, unheard, over-protected, embarrassed, and bossed around. These themes, of course, run rampant in every generation as parents do their best to provide guidance and training for their children while, as we all know, children know everything they need to after the age of five!  All joking aside, the youth had an excellent moment of camaraderie and story telling, (which generally turns out to be the best part of my job – these kids are hilarious) each of them drawing closer to the others in the sharing of mutual struggles that are associated with being a child.

After our sharing time we addressed the different ways that we might navigate this relationship. It’s not often that we think about our parental relationships – for some of us they are as natural as breathing and something that just happens, while for others – they can be difficult and painful, fraught with fear or disappointment. We discussed our interactions with adults that we interpreted to be poor parental figures, our interactions with the children of these types of parents, and how the relationship between the parent and child is often crucial to the well-being and success of the child.

We then took some time to seek God’s word on the subject. After reading through a few choice verses from Proverbs and Deuteronomy (we decided we didn’t want to be stoned, or have our eyes pecked out by vultures for being bad kids) we settled in with Ephesians 6:1-3

  • Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” – which is the first commandment with a promise – “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Through discussing this verse, we were able to tie back to our earlier conversation about the kids who didn’t listen to their parents and some of the youth were able to share stories of drug abuse, and social/emotional problems that they saw in their classmates or friends.  God clearly has a plan for our familial relationships and any deviance from this plan can be disastrous.

Finally, we brainstormed ways to engage in God’s word and shared ideas for how we can honor our fathers and mothers. I think it’s safe to share this full list:

Way’s We Honor our Parents:

  • By what we wear
  • How we act (publicly)
  • Using our manners
  • Listening
  • Respecting their decisions
  • Being Truthful
  • Self Controlled
  • Open minded
  • Write a letter or email instead of continuing an argument
  • Being the Adult
    • We acknowledge that our parents are only human and may not always behave in the same manner that they expect from us…   

All in all, we had a very productive evening of fellowship and discipleship. I continue to be impressed by the level of maturity and engagement of all youth and feel blessed to be a part of this ministry. They are fine example of – and tribute to – the many wonderful families and parents we have at UBC.

-Phil

Youth Pizza

 

 

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