Grace United Methodist Church
Friday, August 23, 2019
Reaching people with the love and teachings of Jesus Christ

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Hello Friends!

Last week a group of three adults and six youth went to Kansas City, MO for the Youth 2019 Conference of the United Methodist Church. Over 3100 people attended from all over the United States, even Hawaii! The four days of the conference each began with a morning group bible study. The presenters told the parable of the  Prodigal Son from different perspectives such as the  father, the prodigal son, the mother, the older brother, a sister, and a neighbor. This allowed us to better  understand the context of Jesus’ time and his audience. 
 
The afternoon was spent in DIG (small) groups, made  of students from all different churches to discuss the  previous message. During the day the students and  leaders also had the opportunity to go to work shops with a variety of topics such as teenage depression, being inclusive, teen group games, Native American issues, and a host of others. Each evening concluded with a powerful time of worship led by the band Army of Light. It was incredible to see thousands of young people  excited to worship. You could literally feel the floor bouncing when they jumped up and down. The main speaker was Romal Tune, an author, speaker, and social entrepreneur. He spoke candidly about his life  experiences that led to powerful transformations within  himself, his relationship with people, and God. Each night our group gathered in the common living area to recap and share what we learned that day. It was  encouraging to see youth open up and share their new insights and experiences. 
 
As I watched the excitement, passion, and  dedication of the youth I had two thoughts.  1) In the midst of the turmoil of the United  Methodist Church globally, these young  people were not hindered to worship, love God, and love their neighbors. It reminded me of the story of Mary and Martha. Martha chose to worry about the details and  obligations of hosting Jesus while Mary chose to be in Jesus’ presence.
 
As I witnessed  excitement, energy, stage, lights, music, and speakers, I couldn’t help but notice the  experience was very different than the  majority of local churches. I don’t mean in terms of number of people but the approach and style were different than what many churches do. I once heard a pastor of a large thriving congregation say, “as our church gets older, our congregation gets younger.” To be truly intergenerational, we have to constantly ask ourselves what can we do differently?
 
We’ve often heard the phrase the children/ youth are the future of our church. In reality they are a part of the church right now. Our role as adults and older youth, is to continue to cultivate an environment that will help our children and youth grow in faith and  commitment to Jesus Christ. I’m thankful for all the parents, supporters, prayers, and gifts that made this experience possible. I pray that we continue our support and be in  ministry with our young people!
 
Grace and peace,
Pastor Paul