A Small Picture of the Kingdom
John Telgren

The other day I was reflecting on the make up of the Youth Group in which I grew up. It dawned on me what kind of people we had and why we had 21 teens in a congregation of 95. Many of the teens did not have parents that were Christian, much less that attended any kind of worship. What was it that drew these kids to our group? In asking this question, I reflected on who was in our group over the years I grew up there.

There was Scottie, well liked by people every where and a decent athlete. There was Lori, a shy quiet girl who was virtually invisible in school with those who knew thinking she was strange so they kept their distance. However, in our youth group she was accepted. There was Butch. He was quirky, and people at school tended to poke fun at him. But in the Youth Group, he took an active part and was a leading member of our skit group. There was Randy, heavily involved in the music department in High School and led singing in our congregation. There was Todd, a sort of brainy even keel type of person. Well, he was the same in the Youth Group as well. There was Michelle. She actually lived in Bellevue, but came all the way down to Plattsmouth to be with us.

I could go on and on. About half of the kids in our group had parents who were not Christians. There was something about our group. It didn't matter whether you were popular or not or whether you were weird or not. You were among friends when you were among us. Perhaps that is why we had so many young people in our group that took their own initiative to come. No parent forced them to. Most of them eventually made decisions for Christ and were baptized. We were a strange looking group as we engaged in service, ministry and fellowship together.

Perhaps strange is what we were called to be. Unbeknownst to us, we had become a microcosm of the Reign of God. We were a village set on a hill, a light to our surroundings. There was no banging people over the head with the Bible. We didn't preach "at" people, we came alongside them and discovered God's will together.

Was this because of any serious theological reflection on our part? I don't think so, we were just kids. A lot of what we learned, however, came from our models, which included the older teens and the adults who always seemed to be there whenever we got together. My parents, Mike, Sammy and Becky, David and Candy, David Hunt, and the list could go on. They were models for us. One unofficial ministry for these adults was to just be with us kids. They were genuinely interested in us. They had no fabulous master plan or well oiled ministry program. It was just their simple, genuine, giving nature of being interested in us personally. In a sense, our concept of God was shaped by them as much as it was shaped by our Bible study.