I grew up in New England. I didn’t have a lot of close friends my own age for the majority of my life.
I don’t see that as a negative.
I learned to interact with people of all ages, and I feel like it actually made my life more full than if I had just hung out with kids my own age.
I had a great church, but it was small and there was no budget to pay a youth pastor, so we had one after another after another.
Never consistent, and never really long term.
There was that one family who came into my life at the age of 12.
I talked about it a little more here .
They were the best youth leaders I could have asked for, and I just adored them.
One night, we had a girls sleepover.
The weird thing is, I don’t really remember many of the details at all.
I don’t remember who else was there, or what we were even doing.
This is what I remember:
When we woke up, the leader said she was doing a who-is-the-ugliest-in-the-morning contest, and I won.
I’m sure she was joking around and I’m sure everyone got a good laugh about it.
But ya know what? When I wake up in the mornings now, I still look in the mirror and think about that day.
I think about how ugly I look in the morning, and it actually impacts me.
Weird, right? Because it was just words, and it was literally almost 30 years ago.
But it was words that stuck with me and continue to impact me.
I think that is why I take my role in people’s lives so seriously.
I think that is why I try and make an effort to talk positively about people and take the time to tell people they are beautiful.
I do it because I still feel how much words can hurt, and how long words can last.
They are life or death, and it’s up to me how I decide to use them.
Fast forward 7 years.
I remember sitting in a youth class my sophomore year at Liberty University.
I was in college as a music major and I thought I would maybe teach piano eventually.
I took the youth class as an elective and I wasn’t really planning to get much from it.
I listened to the professor, one afternoon, who seemed so passionate about teenagers.
He was passionate about being faithful and consistent in their lives, and the way he shared his passion really spoke to me.
That day was when I decided I was going to commit my life to being a constant for the teenagers in my area.
His words and emotion made me realize that there really were people out there who loved Jesus and loved teens and he had figured out how to live life serving both.
That’s what I wanted. And his words that day changed the entire course of my life.
My thoughts at the time were mostly for the “good kids”.
The ones like me, growing up.
I never got into a lot of trouble, I never had a period of walking away from God, or anything like that and I was at church every time the doors were open.
So these were the teens I wanted to focus on.
Those kind of people were the ones my heart went out to.
I wanted these church kids to know that they were important!
I wanted to make sure these kids knew that their story mattered…
That they mattered.
Fast forward many years later… I think I was partly confused when the idea to start a youth center even came up in my head, because I really felt like God had called me to the teenager who had grown up in church, who had the Bible knowledge, and just needed someone to come along side them and cheer them on.
But even though we come up with our own plans and ideas, it’s ultimately God who directs our steps.
So I have spent 8 years investing my life mostly into teenagers who have hardly heard about who Jesus even is.
These teens have never been to church unless it was for a funeral.
And most of these teens have expressed very little interest in finding out who Jesus is, even when I have shared it over and over.
I have often wondered why God called me to this, and I feel so inadequate so many times.
Most of the kids have been through way harder things in their lives than I have in mine, but I am just following where God is directing.
So about 5 years ago, I sat in a coffee shop with my 12-year-old son and I had an idea.
I wanted him to be able to connect with other teenagers from New England who were serious about their faith.
Because honestly, there seemed to be very few around.
I wanted an event that was geared specifically for those kids I had felt a burden for years ago in a classroom in Virginia.
This event would serve a few purposes:
1. Would give teenagers from New England encouragement and training to keep them on the path and to keep them focused on their relationship with Jesus.
2. Would give teenagers from New England the ability to connect with OTHER teenagers who were also serious about their faith to give them strong, rich friendships that would empower them to boldly serve Jesus.
3. Would give amazing adults (of all ages) from New England the opportunity to speak and pour into the lives of these teens and be the role models that they need to go deeper in their faith walk with God.
It would show these teens that they mattered.
And so as I started praying and planning, I was almost immediately hit with my first blow.
I contacted a fairly large church in the area to ask if the youth leader would be interested in speaking at our event and bringing some teens from his church.
His response was basically – no thanks. We already have a teen leadership group here at our church, we don’t need anything else.
And since that time, I have seen many responses that were similar.
The “my church vs. your church” problem is a real thing here in New England, people.
Maybe it is in other places too, but I think it is so dangerous to get to the place where we think we can do everything on our own.
We need more connections with other believers!
We need more partnerships, more collaborations, more togetherness!
We are the body of Christ and we are to show more love and support for each other than normal, because we are family!
While there were, and continue to be many negative responses moving forward, I have been absolutely thrilled with the way many in the body of Christ have come together to serve the teenagers in New England~
This year, as we get ready for our FIFTH conference, we have speakers from Maine, Massachusetts and NH coming and I have no doubt God is going to do amazing things.
So why do I care about Christian teens from New England?
Because I used to be one.
Because I wish there was more support for me when I was a teen, but instead of complaining about that, I’m going to change that.
And because I think that the teenagers who are living in such a spiritually cold environment, with a little support, can change the entire world for Christ.
That is why I care about Christian teens from New England.
It’s not that I don’t care about the evangelism piece that is clearly needed.
But there is something powerful about a group of not just casual Christians getting together. But about serious Christians getting together.
What a powerful counter to the war on truth in our world today.
Informed, wise, loving teenagers who are ready to go out and be the love and light of Jesus in a dark world.
Anyone want to join?
I would love to pack out our venue this year.
I would love to have teens represented from all over New England.
Let’s talk about how a group of solid, connected teenagers could impact this world in ways that people like me never could
We need more teens who are serious and willing to stand up for truth.
The statistics for Christians in New England is daunting.
But we don’t have to sit by get depressed about it.
Pass the word, and start changing the statistics.
Go here to get all the information about this year’s Surge event.
**We offer full scholarships to teens who are interested in attending but don’t have the money!