I’ve been in the middle of a pretty busy stretch lately. The ski trip two weekends past was supposed to be followed by an annual vision casting banquet, which has now been postponed until later this month (the day after a girls trip I’m driving for). This past weekend I took a small group of guys out to the IA-NE Christian Convention in Omaha – and I have two group trips to Denver in the next month. We’re hosting a concert by VOTA here tonight and planning a student led Sunday service sometime in the not too distant future. In April we’re hosting a couple hundred students for an annual youth event that rotates between a few churches in the region. I’m also trying to get some groundwork done for a pretty intense prayer initiative.
The travel seems to be one of the most often questioned aspects of the youth ministry lately. “Why would you go (with a bunch of kids) to Casper one weekend, turn around the very next weekend and go to Omaha, and throw in two trips to Denver in a span of 7 weeks? You’ll be spending a lot of time driving…”
Actually, for the Omaha trip last weekend there were about 14 hours driving on Friday and Saturday and only about 10 hours of actual programming/event taking place. Why spend so much time in a car to get to a youth event that’s only 1 night and one morning? Here’s an actual comment from Friday night that illustrates why.
“Man this is awesome. I love GORF.” (the name of the Jr. High event we were attending).
Not that big of a deal except one thing: the student making the comment had never been to the event before, and the comment was made before any of the programming had taken place. We showed up at the convention center, got checked in, went to check in at the hotel, then went to Fuddrucker’s for dinner (best greasy burgers in Omaha). The event hadn’t even started yet and he was already loving it!
But the 500 miles covered together on the road were part of the event for my students. This small group of guys spent 500 miles beating on each other, laughing at Cheetos faces and fingers, getting truck drivers to honk, and just hanging out all day. The time spent traveling is sometimes the most sustained contact any of these students have with another human being. It’s a chance for relationship to develop. I want to take advantage of that anytime I can.
The last three youth trips have been the best three trips in my time in ministry here. It’s been exciting to see the students responding to what God’s been impressing on them in these trips – I look forward to seeing how they continue to implement their convictions in their homes and schools and jobs… and to logging a few more miles in a couple weeks.