I haven't blogged in far too long and I have a long list of reasons why, but they're all excuses and not worth it, so I'll save it. Tonight I just had to post though when I realized everything I wanted to reflect on from tonight was far too much for a mere Facebook status.
Tonight I staged a little...ok, a lot...of conflict in my youth group. I wanted them to understand the whole Jew/Gentile situation that the Apostle Paul spoke to in the second chapter of Ephesians. I picked one loud, out-spoken, senior guy to kick it off. I was two minutes into complimenting my youth group on the amazing community they've formed when he interrupted proposing that the middle schoolers are lame and the high schoolers are supreme. His words were along the lines of "we're here, then there's fifty layers of crap, and then there's the middle schoolers." Harsh, but I went with it. Others of my high schoolers (pre-planned) added in how middle schoolers weren't spiritually on par, goofed off too much, etc. My volunteers were first to speak up on behalf of the middle schoolers. They were jumping out of their seats, making reallllllly angry faces, shaking fists, so worked up. It was fantastic. They also seemed extremely concerned and confused at the fact that I was allowing this! The middle schoolers tried to defend themselves, but the high schoolers were vicious. And I just let it happen :) It was when I finally called on one volunteer, a mom, who started with "I hope you guys are trying to pull something over my head, because..." That was when I decided the jig was up, and it was time to break down the illustration.
What I realized:
1. Our actions and words are so effective!! I had middle schoolers and volunteers on the verge of tears. I had new visitors who said they "couldn't believe what was happening and never wanted to come back." (Don't worry...we cleared up that none of it was for real!!) In order to create true community, we can't have divisiveness among us! Our youth group is strong because we are the exact opposite of how that group of high schoolers acted tonight.
2. I have the most amazing team of volunteers around. I owe them a serious apology for not cluing them in beforehand on what was happening, but I think it worked for the better of the illustration! Seriously though, the way they stood up for my poor and persecuted middle schoolers was unreal. The first student wasn't through ripping on them before leaders were on the feet and ready to fight. They recognize the value of community in a youth group! There was no way they were gonna let anything happen tonight that would take away from that.
3. I love my kids! For the ones who were part of the act, I love how they totally went with these roles that were completely out-of-character with who they really are. Towards the end, some kids knew it had to be an act because they couldn't imagine their peers acting that way. And then the picked-on middle schoolers...seeing how hurt they were really shows me how much they value and respect the high schoolers. When a person you don't know cuts you down, it doesn't have much effect. But when someone you look up to disses you, it cuts deep. Seeing their level of disbelief reaffirmed the bond they have across grade levels.
Overall...success. So much fun breaking it down with students and leaders afterwards and hearing what was going on in their heads...what a night :)