Churches are filled with broken people. I know that’s probably not a new revelation for anyone who has ever been a part of a church, but it’s a good place to start. In the past 20 years I have had the privilege to work with some broken people who I love very much, but honestly there are times when their brokenness causes difficulties in the family. Sometimes it’s a long slow simmer and sometimes it happens so quickly that you aren’t sure what happened. I have always held on to hope in the fact that in the midst of the brokenness God often shows up in an amazing way.
Something is happening in our church family, and honestly I didn’t see it coming. Our church has been dealing with a season of brokenness; the what and why don’t really matter. The reason I mention this is because in a span of two weeks, our church family went from a small youth group of fifteen young people to my son being in class all alone. As a preacher that’s hard, when you are a dad that rips your heart out.
For two weeks there were only two people in class, I was the teacher and my son was the student. I cannot adequately explain to you how difficult those days were for our family. Instead of regular Bible classes, on Wednesday nights our congregation participates in Coffee and Conversation. This is a time when we invite our church to sit together and discuss a passage of scripture over a cup of coffee. For two weeks I sat on one couch and my son sat on the other. We didn’t talk or study much; we just prayed and felt sorry for our situation.
One Sunday night in July I shared some of my frustration with our care group. The next Wednesday evening some members from our small group showed up to the youth group class. They wanted to come to the class so that my son wasn’t by himself. I was thankful, but a bit frustrated that there was no one showing up for my son to build community with. (I know, I know don’t get ahead of me.)
August arrived, school started, and my son invited a friend to come to Coffee and Conversation with us. My son, his friend, and I walked into class and found another teenager from our congregation and several adults already there. I wasn’t really sure what to do, after all this was the teen class, but I was thankful that they cared for us during a difficult time. We sat around, drank coffee and talked. They listened to these teenage boys talk and agreed with them when appropriate and gave a better explanation when appropriate.
When the class was over I had some concerns about how my son’s friend felt being in a room with adults talking about Hebrews. I wasn’t so sure this was a good idea, after all teenagers don’t want to hang out with adults and adults don’t want to be in a class with teenagers. If the only option we had was for these teenagers to hang out with the old people I just knew that they would never come back and my son would be all alone again.
The next Wednesday rolled around and we took two visitors. The adults showed up; we drank coffee, ate cookies, and had a pretty great discussion on Hebrews. This Wednesday night the plan is for me to pick some up some kids while others will have their mom’s drop them off. My son said we are expecting around eight 7th and 8th graders to join us.
My son has been inviting his friends for years, and now they are coming. I asked him what he thought about the adults hanging out in their class and he told me for the first time he feels like he has a voice. For the first time he feels like he is really a part of the church, like a real person and not just some kid. His friends like it as well. After all when do they every get to sit around with adults and get treated as an equal in a conversation?
I will admit that I don’t know how this is all going to play out. The amazing thing is that God has provided him the community that I so deeply want for him, just not in the way that I would have imagined it. So this Wednesday night in South East Texas there will be a room with 13-year-old guys and girls, a couple of young married couples, some older married and a retired widow talking about Jesus in community. I’m not sure where God is taking us or what He is going to do next. What I do know is that it’s a beautiful thing when we get out-of-the-way and allow the church to be the church.