These Kids Are Out of Control

Posted on by Mike Green

On each of the past four Wednesday mornings I, along with four of our other leaders, have had the opportunity to run a Campus Life club at an area middle school. Several dozen students from the school’s summer academy joined us in the library each week. We piled onto the floor and attempted to create an atmosphere where trusting friendships could be built with students. The first three weeks we hoped to build towards an opportunity to share Christ with our new friends who would not just hear our words but will have seen the love of Christ in action. It was a great plan. But things don’t always go as planned.  

We hit a few bumps along the way. At the end of the first club a fight broke out between students. Punches were hurled and landed. The fight ended only as teachers jumped in to separate the two combatants. In week two, the students were more than a bit disruptive. Some had to be removed from the meeting due to their disrespectful behavior. Leaders were frustrated. Week three proved to be no better. Leaders were openly questioning whether they wanted to return for a fourth week. “Are we wasting our time? These kids are out of control.”

After a week of prayerful preparation for our fourth and final club of the summer, we hoped we were ready for whatever the kids would throw our way. Armed with a few new crowd control inspirations and a plan to keep a more subdued atmosphere we thought we could help these 11 to 13 year olds better focus and take our next step in sharing Christ. We were nervously confident. That confidence was tested when two of our leaders called last minute to let us know that they could not be with us due to circumstnaces beyond their control. So with fewer leaders than any previous week we headed into “battle.” Our weapon of choice, six blue balloons.

We felt a bit like Gideon. Only trumpets, torches and water pitchers had been replaced with a handful of helium-filled balloons. Club began and we did our best to engage each student in conversation as they entered the room. We hoped to keep them from their typical poking, pestering and name-calling of each other with a few diversionary techniques. Midway through the meeting I stepped to the front of the room with my bouquet of balloons.

The balloons would serve not only as an attention grabber but serve perfectly as an illustration of how what we are filled with can change everything about us. I unpacked the story of God sending His Son Jesus. I shared how Christ had come, lived, died and was raised to pay the price for our sin and to give us “full life.” In fact “Jesus comes to live in us when we place our

trust in Him” (balloon illustration). As I related God’s story of redemption the kids were amazingly attentive. Some gave nods of understanding and agreement to a few of my points. I invited the students to accept God’s offer of forgiveness and to invite Christ into their lives. Thirteen young people, including one of our fighters, surrendered their life to Jesus that morning.

But I would like to share with you what happened with the students who did not respond to the Gospel that morning. As two leaders sat down with those who did make a commitment to Christ, I sat in a circle on the floor with all the rest. With the remaining time, I asked questions to grasp where they were on each of their faith journeys and to determine their understanding of God and the Gospel. I asked questions that ranged from “who is Jesus” to “why did He have to die?” And as they answered I listened intently. Then they started asking me questions. Amazingly throughout this give and take every single student participated. They gave answers. They asked questions. They listened. I have done this hundreds of times over many years but can still say that morning was something special. I think the kids sensed it too.

One of our regular troublemakers raised her hand. She seemed determined to ask a question and waited patiently for another student to complete their answer. I finally pointed to her to give her opportunity to voice her question. “Will you be coming back?” I sensed the “you” in her question was not Campus Life but me personally. I looked into the face of a young girl I had more than once wanted to remove from the group and write her off as a lost cause. I hesitated. Her words sunk deep into my heart. In that moment I was reminded of what a privilege it is to be a part of the lives of these teens. I told her I would be visiting her school in the fall along with other Campus Life leaders and we would love to get know each of them so much more.

You may know the quote “if not us who, if not now when?” Thank you for choosing to be the “who” and for making “now” the time by supporting our mission to lost, unchurched teenagers. Thank you for not giving up on this generation.  

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