Perhaps I'm a bit slower than the average youth pastor. I'm just beginning to realize that fun is not what, it's who. Students don't come because of the fun, crazy activity I've planned. They come because so-and-so is coming.
Earlier this month I showed a late night, outdoor movie at the church. Halfway through the movie a girl arrived and stood at the edge of the lawn searching the small crowd. I went over to greet her.
Without giving her scanning eyes a break, she said, "I'm just looking to see if anyone is here."
I was momentarily speechless. I, too, began scanning the crowd just in case the students I thought I saw were in fact a hallucination. Finally I asked, "What do you mean?"
She jerked out of her trance and looked at me dumbfounded. "You know," she said, "I'm trying to see if I know anyone." She didn't and decided to leave.
It's not what, it's who.
I currently have in my e-mail in-box a number of e-mails from students asking who has signed up for an upcoming music festival. They are not convinced they want to sign up until they know who else is going.
It's not what, it's who. While I found this initially frustrating, I'm beginning to see the benefits. Instead of spending my time planning big events, I can focus in on relationships. Then again I suppose I could become lazy. It seems like all I have to do is to ensure that a certain three students show up at church at 8 pm on a Friday and simply provide an onion and a dirty sock for them to play with and they'll come out in droves.