I spent my summer on a little island in Savannah, Georgia interning with the youth group of Isle of Hope United Methodist Church. Those two months were both the most mentally and physically exhausting yet spiritually rewarding months of my life. On paper, my job meant planning and executing the big trips of the summer, leading Sunday school and youth group, along with the day-to-day operations of a youth ministry like writing notes to or getting lunch with kids. In reality, my job meant jamming to Disney music, eating Chic Fil A every other day, and getting kicked out of malls.
The youth director that I worked with gave his interns the opportunity to let our voices be heard in all the decisions of youth this summer and I appreciate that because it allowed me to see the background music that makes up youth ministry. This summer shaped me and my vision of the church in so many ways. Spending that much time with teenagers made me fearless in not only words but in faith. The biggest thing I took away from this summer is that although in the adult church we love for things to be clean and presentable—especially our sanctuaries and fellowship halls—but teenagers (and let’s be honest most adults) aren’t clean and presentable—especially those we are called to minister to. If we are to be a church with open doors and hearts, we can’t be afraid to get messy and allow messy people into our lives and buildings.