For those of you who want to know where the young men and women of your church are both spiritually and socially, take them to a nursing home for a service project.
I was privileged this past Thursday night to have 9 brave 5th grade men (Yes, I am calling these 11 year olds men) brave the elements to serve the elderly. With gloves, shovels and rakes, it looked to me like we were fit to handle whatever the task was. Sure, I wanted to see some physical labor take place, but more importantly, I wanted to hear the cry of their hearts. How has church influenced their hearts? Are they more focused on pleasing me or pleasing God?
As we left the house, there was a confidence in the air. Upon arrival to the nursing home, the boys were jumping out of the cars, just waiting for the order. Once we had a clear direction, the boys split up into their respective areas, and sticks and leaves were beginning to be removed.
However, within a few short moments, the words, “I hate church, I don’t like doing this” echoed in the evening air. Another student voiced, “this reminds me of working up at our cottage when we worked all day.” The next thing I notice, he’s just sitting there watching everyone work. Maybe it’s me, but his definition of working all day and mine are worlds apart.
We raked leaves and moved rocks for an hour. If you ask the young men, they would tell you “for hours”. We had to move what seemed like two tons of loose rock so they could restore a fountain and pool. Everyone was working like dogs, maybe because there was a camera person from the church who was taking pictures, making them feel like celebrities.
It’s incredible not only to see young men working together but also to see their desire to be noticed. Knowing that they would be in a picture meant everything to them. It was like a light went off at that very moment, these 5th graders wanted to be heard.
My question as someone who works with children is this, are they being heard at home? Do they have a voice when they come home from school? Or, are they given a remedy for conversing at home, called video games, sports, you fill in the blank. I actually had a leader come up to me and tell me that one of the young men asked him if he would go and talk to the supervisor about a missing shovel. He couldn’t go and carry on a conversation with the sweet old man who was overseeing us? Thankfully, the leader told him to “ask him yourself,” and he did with no problem.
But my bigger question is, what has happened to conversation? My biggest fear is that in 15 years, these men will not have the ability to share, discuss, teach, or preach the gospel of Jesus. Sure, they can put on a front to prove to people they are “good”. And yes, they can tell me everything there is to know about the Tigers starting line-up and the various levels of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, but what about the life of Jesus, could they tell me what the gospels actually recorded about the various levels and trials Jesus had to face?
How about it moms and dads, could you?