Youth Group Celebrity

I was recently at a youth ministry event that featured a testimony video from a 15-year-old boy who was raised in an abusive family. Let’s call him Dustin.

You couldn’t help but be moved when you heard Dustin’s story about finding a safe place in his youth group.

Youth Group Celebrity

 

He was crying, his peers were crying, leaders were crying. Ounces of tears shed is a common youth ministry metric, so it was evident that God had done something.

Gaining Celebrity

I lost some sleep the night I saw that video. I thought about Dustin and his story, I thought about the pain he’d endured, I thought about all of the ways God was bringing redemption. Then I thought about his future.

As caring, responsible adults, we need to be careful about who we put on a pedestal, and why—our kids are all a work in progress.

God’s healing will play out over a lifetime for Dustin. God is able, and the Holy Spirit is moving him in the right direction. But Dustin will be walking through the implications of his childhood trauma for life.

And now, he will be walking through those implications in a room full of kids who know all about it. He will bear the weight of their hopes for him, he will carry their quiet pity. Dustin is a youth group celebrity.

No Quick Fixes

Nothing is impossible for God. I honestly believe that God is still working miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit. However, it seems clear to me that God typically gives us the power to do the work. Saul went through a radical conversion, his life was changed. But I’ll bet he still lived with the relational aftermath of being a career terrorist. Lazarus was raised from the dead, but that dude died again.

When I hear a lifelong addict talk about the power of God breaking their chains of addiction, I get excited—that is worth celebrating! At the same time, I hope they are willing to continue the work of staying healthy over the next few years. When a teenager has a mountaintop experience on a mission trip, I celebrate God’s work. And I pray the Holy Spirit will continually guide them towards the love, grace, and holiness of Christ.

I believe in miracles, but I’ve never seen God heal a teenager of puberty brain. They’ve got to grind through that.

God has given us—even young people—capacity and power through the Holy Spirit. And, in my experience, those are the primary tools God uses to move us towards more perfect love.

Stewards of Story

I don’t think it was wrong to help Dustin tell his story. But, after my night of wrestling, I felt a renewed sense of diligence. The teenagers we love are in process. They are developing, in every aspect of their life. As caring adults, we are responsible for shepherding them through that process.

We have all loved kids who spent sixth grade eager to please us with Bible knowledge, then spent seventh grade eager to score some weed. Having faith doesn’t exempt a teenager from puberty. As caring, responsible adults, we need to be careful about who we put on a pedestal, and why—our kids are all a work in progress.


About the Author: Tyler Fuller

tyler fuller

The only job I have ever pursued is vocational ministry. I spent over a decade doing Young Life and church Youth Ministry. I am now the Missions Pastor at a mega church in the panhandle of Florida (who still gets to work with youth every day!)

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