This past Friday night I hit the streets of Barnegat with a few minister friends of mine.
We were looking for groups of youth I’ve seen hanging around and walking around town. I remember when I was a teen… there was nowhere to go… nowhere where there wasn’t trouble that is. Most people think that when the pastors ‘hit the streets’ looking for people… they are looking to make a hard sell: believe in God, become a Christian, etc., but, we really wanted to know what the youth in town think they need. Do they need a place to hang-out? Do they need something to do? Do they need any kind of help?
We are still in the process of looking for these answers as we talk to every young person we meet, because the mission of the church, in the first place, is not to push Jesus on people, but rather to push ourselves towards those places we can make the biggest difference. Sure, as Christians, we want people to see that it is God’s love that motivates us. Sure, as Christians, we want people to see the promise of a new and better life by following the way of Jesus. But, all of that begins with serving the greatest needs of our community. This is part of what it means to ‘love’ others. 1 John 3:18 teaches us:
let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.
Word and speech may just make us look like any number of other people trying to push their agenda on the next generation, trying to make the ‘hard sell’… but truth and action can make a real difference, and build real trust.