Tell me if this has ever happened to you:
You walk up to a group of people or notice someone comments back and forth on Twitter or FB about something that they find hilarious. You ask for an explanation and try as they might, they can’t seem to tell it to you in a humorous way. Finally, they get a little frustrated and just say “I guess you just had to be there.”
You genuinely WANT to know what happened, but you can never fully grasp the importance/hilarity/awesomeness of that moment because you simply weren’t there.
One time, following a family game night at our church, a student grabbed a half-eaten bag of popcorn out of the trash. But, according to her, it was okay…It was sitting on the top.
The Great Popcorn Fight, as it would later be called, began innocent enough. We were catching popcorn out of the air, when someone (me) decided to start playing defense instead. It escalated quickly and soon it was an all-out popcorn war. Popcorn met faces, ears, noses and hair. Some cookies were thrown. Some eyes were hit by said cookies.
Probably not, because you just had to be there.
But for the Students involved, it was the best youth event ever. In fact, as we were cleaning up our mess, I overheard one of our Students remark to their mother that our Student Ministry was “The Best Youth Group Ever!”
Because of a popcorn fight.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense how an impromptu popcorn assault could be beneficial to your local Student Ministry, but more was accomplished to build community and connection in that 30 minute stretch of time with those students than we could have accomplished in 6 hours at a camp or retreat.
That’s what it is really all about in Student Ministry. Finding ways to connect with your Students and from there helping them connect with God.
That connection could happen when you least expect it. It could be during a popcorn fight after a Family Game Night. It could be when your planned event breaks down and you have to go to the park instead (Which was awesome). It may be at a band concert. it may be at a High School Football game. It could happen in the brief moments before and after your youth services or events.
Community and Connection are built, grown and expanding through shared events and experiences.
The next time that one of those students ate a bag of popcorn, they laughed and knew they had friends at the church they could count on. They had a youth team that was willing to take the time with them. They had a Youth Group that truly cared for them.
It would have been very easy for me to stop the Great Popcorn War, but connections were being established in that brief moment of spontaneity.
Not every experience has to be scripted, some just need to be enjoyed.
I wish I could tell you about the smiles on those Student’s faces or the texts we received from them about how much fun it was. About how much that stupid, spontaneous moment meant to them.
But you know what?
You just had to be there.