About 2 years ago, the Youth Director at our church (and my podcast buddy) A. J. Farley discovered a new way of getting the entire church involved in the lives of the teenagers in our church body. I’m pretty sure he’d say that it is challenging to find volunteers for that age group. I would counter that it’s difficult to get volunteers for any ministry–which explains why I’m always begging for help with staffing the Welcome Desk and setting up Communion. (Feel free to “comment” if you’d like to join either of my ministry teams!)
A. J. came to our Life Group meeting one day and presented his adopted idea: more-mature believers would carry Bibles for 2 years, making notes as they studied. Each carrier would also commit to learning about and praying for the student whose Bible he or she carried. At the end of the two years, each Bible-carrier would present the marked book to its owner during the recognition of the graduates. Hopefully we would all have kept this a secret, and the high-school graduate would be surprised.
This idea appealed to me on several levels.
- It would force me to get to know someone I might otherwise not have ever encountered.
- It would make me accountable to more than just God and myself for keeping up with the church’s daily Bible readings.
- It would give me an excuse to buy colorful pens!
The first thing I did after receiving the Bible that day was go to a craft store and purchase archival-quality pens. These would not bleed through the rice paper (in theory), would never fade, and gave me the ability to classify my notes. I designated blue for sermon notes, green for personal notes, and so forth. I liked the idea of my student knowing whose thoughts I was recording. I wanted her to be able to give more weight to what a Sunday-morning speaker would say about a passage than to what I wrote in the occasional 5:00am, blurry-eyed personal study.
Morgan was thrilled with her Bible. And not overly surprised at my over-the-top commitment to this project. She heads off to college in Washington state in the fall, and she takes with her my affection and continued daily prayers.
A. J.’s plan has worked. The first Monday after I gave Morgan her Bible (and the colorful pens), I emailed A. J. for my next student-assignment. I am already enjoying studying and praying for my 2015 graduation, as are many of the adults at NHC.