The thing about Christian fundamentals within a youth group is that it's destine to fail. Not completely or frequently but as humans, and as a club, people are going to get hurt and there will opposition. It's also likely that there will be a big group of self-righteous high schoolers running around with condemnation in their eyes. Fiery red eyes at that, with their fists raised, lurking for destruction of human character. It's as if Youth Group Culture (a 5' 10" handsome, clean shaven, skinny jean wearing man) gave them a razor blade with the warning label "DO NOT CUT ANYONE" knowing that it was impossible.
I had a friend tell me about an encounter he had. His name is Steve and at the time he was probably around the age of 18. Steve, not coming from a religious background, was invited to one of these Youth Groups by a friend of mine, Glenn. In Glenn's defense he was doing what he thought was right, and it was right. Glenn was inviting a non-christian friend to a christian gathering. Ultimately the best way to gain brownie points from the pastor and doing exactly what was told of him, "bring your friends to church, get them saved, BE A CHRISTIAN." I don't know what happened leading up to the instance but what I do remember hearing from Steve was that he was cornered and scolded. From what I was told the Youth Pastor was informed that Steve and his girlfriend were sharing an apartment and felt it necessary to confront the issue. Youth Pastor wanted to 'snip the bud' if you know what I mean, before it was too late, before Satan filled his heart. Youth Pastor then proceeded to take Steve aside and tell him how wrong this was and that it had to stop, immediately. Now I don't know what else was said or if there was some sort of violent argument but I do remember Steve saying 'fuck christians' at the end of the story. Steve, now 26 years old lives with his girlfriend of a year in the Seattle area and from what I know it's a fairly successful relationship.
I guess I say all this because I'm constantly confronted with poorly dealt situations being the reason why people hate church. We're human, so shoot us. But on the other hand my heart breaks. There's been a mental block put up for a very valid reason. In the same sense no one could convince me to return to jail, even for a visit. In my mind there's nothing relevant enough to cause me to return to such a terrible place. Even if i'm just visiting, even if I hadn't done something terrible to get me there. There's, and I have no proof, but is a condition of the heart and something cries out inside of me saying 'you remember the last time you were here? Yup. Don't do it.'
I remember becoming serious about my faith. There I was, 20-something days deep in my jail cell. I had the upper bunk so of course I was closer to God. He's up and the Devil's down and I'm extremely american. Now I can't really put into word what happened next nor do I want to try but I assure you, something happened. For the first time I desired to read the bible and for the first time it made sense. It's like the words were jumping at me and when it said "we rejoice in our suffering knowing that it produces patience, and perseverance and peace" I felt as though I had found something no other human had seen. All the years I grew up in church and never had I heard anything of this nature. It's as though all this jail and court and heartbreak wasn't just to break my heart. It was to build me as a human. And that was refreshing. I feel as though I could write an entire book solely on that epiphany but I wont. I'm not really certain why I write all these different aspects of my "Christian" experience other than to write them.
Like I told my friend the other day, 'I don't think i'd ever invite someone to church just to try and get them to church. Why humanize something that's completely not of this world?'
"go preach the gospel, tell others of Jesus and if necessary, use words." -anonymous