Last Christmas, my wife took a bunch of my old pictures from when I was a student in youth ministry, and created a lovely scrapbook.  Last night, I was walking through those memories.  To be honest, I remember some of those moments; others are just based on the acknowledgment that they happened, but I don’t recall what took place (like some of the joint fellowships, Christmas and birthday parties).  However, the one thing that seemed to strike me was I remember the “storylines” through some of those events.  i.e. I remember what was the state of our youth group through all those “episodes” or events.  I remembered who liked who, who was making a play for who, who was mad at who, how this group gelled (or not gelled at times).  As I walked through those memories, it almost felt like a soap opera in that there was this underlying storyline that weaved between the different venues.

Then I started to think about youth ministry in general.  Many times, as youth leaders, we hear about how impactful different gatherings, events or experience are.  I wonder though whether the event itself creates to impact, or the fact that it’s another episode that’s part of their storyline.  For example, in my own youth group that I’m leading right now, will they necessarily remember all the potlucks or lessons or activities we did together.  Maybe.  Or will they remember those key moments that contribute to the storyline they were a part of?  Even with events like Avalanche and Blizzard (our CBOQ Youth winter retreats), will they necessarily remember primarily the activities, the speaker and content (and for some, perhaps they will), or is the dominant memory the connection in which this event became a backdrop that contributed to the overall storyline that they (both as individuals and as a group) are living through?

While we as youth leaders do need to ensure we have a quality program that is part of a student’s life, perhaps we need to be more cognizant/aware of how those experiences play into the storylines of our students.  Perhaps then, we’ll notice how God is moving in, through, with and around our students and our youth ministries (and maybe even through our communities, cities, provinces, countries and the world).