Nights like these are my favorite. We have had over 40 unique teens walk through the doors of our VENTURE C.A.F.E. since September (no, not all at the same time!) It is always our hope that they are moved by the messages we share in our group. This week was no different. We had three (3) brave moms walk in their (5) apprehensive teens. The teens all had that same look on their face...like really mom. I do NOT want to be here. I am NOT happy you are MAKING me do this! Ahhh the golden opportunity...every...single...time...
I welcome the youth, engage in small talk, and acknowledge their not wanting to be here. I reassure them their feelings are respected...but then I call out in a rather loud voice across the room to the busy kids already engaging in putting popcorn in the machine, a game of chess on the floor, conversation on the couch, jenga in the corner, and pool in the center with my favorite question, how many of you were ever FORCED to come here? Ahhhh the comfort - nearly 90% of the hands go up and there is laughter...then the few outcasts who were never forced are called out, the ones who try to say, "but but I do want to be here now" and others who still say they are "forced"...I hate to use that term, but it is needed at times like these. I then assure everyone that this is completely normal. I turn to 3 of the newcomers, all girls, all completely embarrassed their mothers are still in the room, talking to one of the other volunteers. We start talking about "life"...like "real life"...about friends, school, the popular kids, the cool kids...one thing everyone at the table has in common, every one of them agreed they weren't "cool" - ahhhh the captivating moment...and what a perfectly timed opportunity (THANK YOU HOLY SPIRIT)...
Rewind a few hours, coming off the high of a retreat yesterday, I was filled with nervousness this afternoon. It was so unlike me. I actually reached out to 2 of our co-leaders sharing this and rather surprised because I am typically super confident in meeting nights...today had a weird aura though. It was as if I had no control, I had a plan in place, things were not last minute, the team of volunteers was stellar tonight, but still I was so unsettled. I knew we had newcomers, I knew what the goal was for the night...I had the devil whispering lies right into my ear.
This was the most perfect opportunity! I had the lead in to the start of our meeting right at my fingertips...the teen girls were nervous about the "meeting"...do we have to pray? You see everyone comes in with the misconception that we will sit around singing Kumbaya in prayer all evening. One of our seasoned members will usually say exactly that, "oh don't worry we don't sit in a circle and sing Kumbaya!" It always breaks the ice and eases the tension.
3 Minutes...Three minutes til meeting begins (typically 30 minutes after arrival)...game on. Fr. Dan shows up as we are beginning our meeting with a prayer. The room fills with the quiet needed to start the pep-talk, with 5 newcomers in one meeting night, it's the perfect time to recap the "expectations" when walking through our doors - not many at all...actually just 1..."RESPECT"
DYC was discussed briefly and then talk turned tables as I asked who watched the "Super Bowl"...ahhh all hands go up! The GOLDEN opportunity...this year's Superbowl was filled with FAITH FIRST then Football...in EVERY aspect of the game. I started by asking what Superbowl it was..."Fifty Three"...no..."Fifty Four"...YES it was Superbowl 54...I ask what the letters were, "LIV" what does that make you think about instantly? "the work LIVE" can't make this up they are feeding me EXACTLY what I need to make the connection to DYC, Inpsiration, Faith, Fame, and Football! Perfect...We are most alive when we are living in the faith, what does that mean? I share the first few minutes of this interview with Harrison Butker
"I played up a different person for different crowds I guess...a certain Harrison for the football team, a certain Harrison for the cameras, a certain Harrison for the parents and families, certain guy for the weekend, it's almost like a fragmented person." <---THIS IS IT...exactly what I wanted our youth to understand.
When you come in through this door, we want the authentic you. We want the you under all the masks of the world. Even better...let's take the message of Patrick Mahomes - star quarter back...all this could not tie in any better to the evening, to DYC, to inspiration! Patrick Mahomes is a perfect example, and has talked in interviews about how to be the "best version of yourself"...the 2nd message I wanted to highlight, we don't want the best people to VENTURE with us. We want the BEST VERSION of the people who join us! Totally the Holy Spirit here tonight...We close the meeting portion with how the Kansas City Chiefs could have won the Superbowl any single year, but it was this year, Superbowl LIV...and I left them with that thought! Even though there was so much more I wanted to share - ahhh future opportunities I'm sure...End of meeting time, porkroll vs taylor ham debate...snacks, social, small talk follow...
Some more food for thought if you made it this far! This Fox News Article was posted just a couple days ago...it's like God gave me just a little bit extra knowing exactly what I need to truly connect with His children
"My Christian faith is the most important thing to me," he told "Fox & Friends" Friday. "In terms of priorities, it's faith, family, and football -- in that order." - Clark Hunt