Summary: An ongoing series that enables people to discover a way to do ministry in their own community that fits them with this message focusing on reaching youth for Christ.

April 10, 2005

Pastor: Richard Pfeil

Reaching the Youth: Help or Hindrance?

Romans 3:23-24, Mark 10:13-16, Matthew 18:3-5

Worship is about holiness. Holiness means to set apart. So we set apart this time for God, to worship and adore his name, to pray and to listen to his Word. I always find that song to be very comforting until the last line- “you will soon be fitted for service above.” [Choir sang “Take Time to Be Holy –Martin] I want to know how soon we are talking about. I prefer to be suited for service below, here now and that is what we are going to be talking about for the next couple of months.

Have you ever felt like the skipper on Gilligan’s Island? One of my favorite series is Gilligan’s Island. The skipper always has this phrase- Why does it always happen to me? I thought of that this past week. As you know, I took some vacation, and on vacation I became ill and was in bed for four days with the flu. Now why couldn’t I do that during work time and get some time off? You know what I’m talking about? Then I go on study leave to sunny Florida, the only time we had off to go to the beach there was a monsoon. It rained a torrent. We also thought we had a nice hotel and I could relax in the nice hotel. There was a wonderful picture. I didn’t know it was a sample of what their hotels were like. The one I was in, the restaurant in the front was condemned and boarded up. When you entered the place it smelled of mildew and must. There was no pool because it was closed for renovations. There were no amenities. It was awful!

Does that have anything to do with the message? No, other than it’s good to laugh, and that’s where we ended the last time I was with you -on the spiritual discipline of celebration. It’s good to laugh. We don’t laugh enough as a culture. We have become so serious. We take everything so seriously. We need to laugh at ourselves. Laughter is healthy.

We are going to shift focus now. For the last three months, we have been talking about the spiritual disciplines, focusing on the interior of our lives, building up the interior self. Now we are going to look at God’s exterior work in our lives, which fits the series of the spiritual disciplines (or the means of grace or growing in our relationship with God spiritually) because the spiritual disciplines, or our experiences with God, are not an end in themselves.

In eastern religions it is the end in itself, the end of experience with God is to overcome and escape the material world. In Christianity it is quite the opposite, the purpose of experiencing an encounter with God is our interior lives are transformed - transformed for a purpose. Having become better people, we go back into the world to make it a better place because our lives have been changed and transformed by him. That is going to be our focus for the next three months or so -looking at things we can turn our attention towards. Having become better in experiencing God and continuing to do so through worship, prayer and meditation, we look for opportunities to make an impact, make a difference, in our community. It touches a very important human need that we all have - the need of experiencing significance, feeling that we made a contribution in this world. This series helps answer the question “Why am I here? Maybe that’s a question you have: What is God’s purpose for me? I think as we look at opportunities for ministry in our lives, it will help give us focus. I hope that in the next three months God will answer that question for you, that you will know exactly why you’re here, or why you’re still here.

I thought I would start with a focus on the youth today because this is the day we decided to dedicate the new youth ministry, All Access, and the VIP lounge (better known as the youth room downstairs in the Nurture Building). The text I chose is Mark 10 if you would turn there.

Now, if you are a young person, I apologize now for calling you children, some of you are older than children, but there is really no New Testament name for teenagers. They didn’t have teenagers. When you became 13 you became a man or became a woman. There wasn’t another category. As I was praying about what text to use this one jumped out at me and I felt that it had some good points for us. So don’t feel badly, if you are a young person, about being called children. Two reasons; one, most people envy you. You know, we are so funny as people. When we are young we want to grow up so quickly, but when we are older, we want to be young again. We do all kinds of things to stop the process of aging. Hope Stone says the only way to stop the process of aging is to die young and I am not sure I like that option either. I always had a fantasy as a child, the reason why I wanted to grow up -and maybe you can relate to this- the reason why I wanted to grow up was because when I grew older I could go to bed at the time that I wanted to. I could stay up late. And now that I am an adult, I can’t wait to go to bed (please, it’s a cherished thing for me). Another reason not to be disturbed by being called a child is when Jesus was asked the question, “Who is the greatest?” What did he do? The context for this passage in Mark 9:36 says he took a child and put them in their midst. The greatest in the kingdom of God, Jesus says, is to be like a little child, so don’t be ashamed of being called a child.

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