August 12, 2011

I Got Kicked Out of Youth Group

One of the good, and bad, things that come from being half Italian/half German is a hard head. I mean really, with those two blood lines running through my veins there isn't much room for being wishy washy, is there?

This genetic conglomeration has caused a lot of problems in my life. Like the Axis Alliance during WWll, once my mind is made up it becomes a force to be reckoned with. No, I'm not bragging. This is something I dislike about myself and something God and I discuss frequently.

The first time I noticed this stubborn streak was in high school. I had found a great youth group and we had a blast together. Skiing, roller skating, weekend retreats, great bible studies....

Our youth group leader and I would spend hours and hours in heated debate about scripture. Looking back, I wonder if he was actually sighing and maybe a bit worried about my youthful theology?

Anyway, that's neither here nor there. Just know that for 2 years this youth group was hugely important to me. My life revolved around the times we could all be together laughing, talking, sharing our hearts, and doing crazy, fun things with each other.

It all came to a sudden, jolting end when my DNA met a (what I thought) batty idea our youth group leader had come up with. He wanted to have a contest. No, not a "lets see who can swallow the most raw eggs without puking" type of contest. This contest was serious and the loser lost, big time.

Here's what he wanted us to do. You know that little booklet called The Four Spiritual Laws? It's a tiny thing that you can read in about 5 minutes. It lays out in simple steps the way to have eternal life. Well, the challenge laid out for us was this:
"Let's see who can share the Four Spiritual Laws with the most people and see who can "save" the most people." (meaning, get the most people to pray the sinner's prayer that's at the end of the booklet.) "If you don't participate, you can't come to youth group anymore."

That's crazy, thought I. When Jesus walked the earth, He talked to people. He spent time with them. He loved them. He looked at their hearts and actually cared about what was going on there. It wasn't a game to Him.

I thought about that and wondered what Jesus would've done. I also looked at the consequences. No more youth group. No more ski trips. No more retreats. No more group bible studies. I wondered how serious our youth group leader was. Would he really kick me out if I thought this was not the way Jesus would have done it? And yes, we even had a debate about it. In the end, I followed my hard head and decided that salvation is not a game. It's not a contest. It's a relationship with God. A friendship built on trust and love. In the end I said, "I can't do this. It's all wrong!" And in the end, I lost. I was kicked out of youth group and told never to come back. Even most of the kids, the people I thought were my friends, walked away. For some unfathomable reason they treated me like I had leprosy.

Now, looking back, I wonder if I did the right thing? The bible says:

" ... It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice."
Phil. 1:18

How about you? What would you have done?

1 comment:

  1. You suffered for your beliefs. Few people have ever been in that position and fewer would pick suffering... You did the honorable thing. Shame on your Youth Pastor. He could have lost a soul. Not the kind of game we should play with teens or anyone for that matter. I good leader will put his people in Win Win situations. Strong and clear boundaries but enforced with love and respect.


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