Why Youth Ministry?

April 13, 2009

Every once in a while, I’ll see something that reminds me why I’m doing what I’m doing.  Yesterday was one of those times.

Yesterday, I saw a young boy, probably six or seven, sitting at the service desk talking to two managers.  My first thought was that the boy must be lost and that we were trying to find his parents.  To my disbleief, I found out that this young boy, along with his older brother, had been caught shoplifting in the toy department.  Even worse, when the older brother realized he was being watched, the older brother took off and left his little brother alone. The older brother, who was 13, was found later.  The younger brother apologized, but the older brother didn’t seem to care that the police had been called.  He claimed that he had been in trouble with the police before.  Both brothers claimed that their mom had dropped them of at the store, and store associates as well as the police were unable to contact her.

Wow.  When I think back on this situation, it absolutely tears me apart.  I don’t know what aspect of this situation upsets me the most.  Could it be that the younger brother was most likely told to steal by his older brother and left?  Was it that a kid who shoplifts $60 in toys at the age of seven will grow up to do things much worse? Is it the fact that the mother thought it was okay to drop off her two sons at Walmart on Easter Sunday?  Is it the fact that most likely, the mother will be more upset that her day was ruined because the sons were caught shoplifting?  Is it the irony that we had very different feelings about these three people, but that God loves them equally?

So what does this have to do with youth ministry?  To me, this isn’t about the crime itself.  It’s the fact that as I looked at those kids, I had to ask myself: If this is what your life looks like, then when you lay your head on your pillow at night, do you feel like anyone cares about you?  Have you ever experienced unconditional love?  Do you know that your life is worth so much more than this?  And has anyone ever taken time to tell you about the God that loves you unconditionally?”

That is why I am in youth ministry.  Every child deserves to know.