I’m just going to throw this out there….you can take it, or you can toss this sucker right back, up to you. Middle school kids are…pluralistic. Here’s what I mean. Within literally a minute, you can see multiple sides, characters, emotions, on and on, etc (you get the picture) of one single individual. Randomly acting crazy, to getting distracted by something random, to saying something so profound it would make Plato ponder, to bursting out with loud screams…all under a minute.
Don’t misread here, I’m not saying that High schoolers are not this way, I have been in some crazy situations with my older kids. But I think that this is different. More unique.
So designing an event that meets this age group and mentality where they are at has to be well thought out. Everything that happens has to be intentionally thought out, specifically planned for them. Not forcing them up to the High school stage and yet not keeping them in the Elementary either.
As twenty adult leaders sat in a room with some of the staff of CIY MIX before the event had even started, the program director gets up in front of everyone and says something that made me second guess a decision that was made a year ago that changed how the Youth Ministry at North Christian Church operated during the summer. See it was last year that I made the decision to pull our kids out of a camp that we have deep roots in, and that I have personal experience in and personal relationship with. It’s not something easily done. Much prayer went into this move. And it was because I believe that what happens at a CIY event, from the intentional programming to the small group discussions and purposed spontaneity, it seems that everything CIY does…it’s just good. So getting the email last summer about this new summer event just for Middle Schoolers was an answer to prayer. God had given us the answer. And I at that point was more confident in that decision at that point than ever before.
So there we sit, and the director says something, not to scare or discourage, I fully believe it was not to be took the way I did, but he says something to the effect of ‘Thank you for being a part of something that has not happened before this summer.’
The reality hit me at that point that this was new.
I’ve been to near ten years of MOVE, CIY’s summer conference for High School students. But that had never been new when I went, they have been putting these on for decades. They had it down. But this, this was different. This was the first year, there are still bugs to work out. They are still working through everything.
I believe Satan had me at that point. That was where he wanted me. As these thoughts rolled through my mind for the next few minutes, I began to question the decision made a year earlier. Wondering if I should have waited a couple more years till they had things worked out. (confession time done)
As I write this at the very end of Day 2 here, I am overwhelmed at what has been happening. I believe that God has the right people at CIY to do things like this, because they are able to do things like this well. It is hard to explain what happens here, and honestly I will not do it justice, but I will give it a shot.
The first thing that the kids do is walk into a gym that has been overhauled with a huge stage, lights, fog, giant speakers, loud music, big screens, and everything that it takes to control all of this. Add onto that 500 OTHER student their own age. I walk in thinking, ‘yeah…this is what I’m talking about’, I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch to say that they walked in thinking that this is very new, very big, very loud, very scary. This is not church camp. This is not like the weekend retreat.
Nothing against them, but I think that Middle Schoolers have a very short attention span. So in order to speak to them and keep them with you, you have to work with that. Random things happening like all the lights going out or jokes in the middle of a talk or silly skits or videos, everything is presented to impact the lives in the room. The one thing that I love most is that everything they do is to set up talks and discussions in the small groups. They do not try to disciple our kids, that is not their job. They are here to put adult leaders in situations that they are able to minister to kids, and then go home with them so that they can continue that ministry throughout the year. I love that about CIY. All I have to do is hang out with my kids and take opportunities to talk with them about the Rabbi! (more on this in the next post)
The games are crazy. I have done things that I thought were going to kill me. I have watched things that I thought were not possible. I have seen Middle Schoolers love playing together, talking together, growing together, and worship together. If there were any expectations for this event, they have been met.
So as i approach 1000 words, (sorry…) I leave you with this. This is a place where students are presented with a read Jesus who really loves them and really wants to be in relationship with them. This is the real deal.
Check in later for more posts about some of the high points of each day!