I was listening to a local sports show the other day and they were asking listeners what teams they were going to give up for lent this year. People called in an gave up in The Chargers, Kentucky basketball, and a host of other teams. One of the shows hosts gave up on the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team and said it was unlikely they would return to dominance on a national scale as far as football program was concerned. He made a great point, try recruiting kids to Nebraska in January and February vs USC or University of Florida. The latter has all the great weather, great facilities, and great cities to live in (with all do respect to Nebraska, I am sure it’s a fine state). There is almost no comparison. College football players want to go where they can win and enjoy the experience. The sports host concluded, “The Cornhuskers will, most likely, never be epic again.” This made me feel sad for Nebraska, but it also made me sad for our youth ministry.
Epic means different things to different people. Traditionally epic means having all the cool stuff, a large youth ministry, all your kids love Jesus and go on all the retreats and events, etc. blah, blah, blah. but I live in metaphorical Nebraska. Our city does not have the best athletes or the most talented kids. It is not a bastion of the arts and no one lives there that can afford to live somewhere else. We’re a hole-in-the-wall community, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be epic, it just means we have to redefine epic for us. Epic to me now means a youth meeting I don’t have to run. I don’t mean I’m sipping umbrella drinks while everyone else sweats; I’m talking about kids and adults coming together to meet, worship, plan, play all the while knowing their roles in serving the Lord and one another. That’s epic and simple.
Our youth ministry will never be traditionally epic, just like Nebraska will not be National Champs anytime soon. My plan is to quit trying so hard to be epic every week and enjoy being simple.(Simple is the new epic, feel free to use that)
- I’ll enjoy the relationships I do have instead of mourning the one I do not.
- I’ll enjoy epic moments (you can still have those) like watching a kid skateboard with his phone talking to his mother and he eats it. Bad. All the while he’s talking to his mother. The best part is where he’s lying on the ground and says to his mom, ‘Can you come pick me up?”
- I’ll enjoy growing in my faith. Sometimes I have to forget about the kids for a second and take care of my own soul.
- I’ll enjoy the small scale epic-ness of our youth ministry. We don’t have it all together. We never will. We will never attain the the epic-ness I’ve sought for so long, but I’ll gladly take the epic-ness God gives us, even if it’s small scale.
Musician Steve Taylor once sang, “Since I gave up hope I feel much better”. Let me, if I may, re-phrase, “Since I gave up epic and embraced simple I feel much better”
How about you? Are you struggling to be epic? How’s that going?
Do you feel the pressure of your church to be epic all the time?
Do you have small, epic youth ministry? What makes your small group epic?