That would be my letter to the groups of kids with whom we interact, primarily our younger teen-aged Sunday School class, if I could pour my heart out to them. But we are, quite unintentionally, in a camp of leaders very much like us who find ourselves too “uncool” to be relate-able. As much as we try to grab bits of the vernacular and leave our Sunday best in the closet, donning jeans when we teach so that we don’t come off as stuffy or traditional, we just don’t fit in. Personally, the kids think it weird that we talk and laugh about being married 20 years; most of them don’t come from that dynamic. All three of our children belonging to the two of us is perhaps equally strange to them. Once when we were talking about family disagreements and a student was shocked. He said, “Wow! I thought you all were just the perfect little family!” I don’t think we’re alone here, but a part of a generation of leaders who have an anointing coupled with enough years to have been there, done that, and bought a few t-shirts, and we want to keep our younger ones from doing the same.
Then there’s that other camp. Oh, and by the way, could the fact that I see them as separate and distinct be a part of the problem? Absolutely. I just haven’t seen a solid marriage between the “old school,” if you will, and the new. In the other camp is youth with all its serious energy, equal anointing, and coolness/ hipness—whatever you call it. They are “down for whatever.” Their appearance is more similar, perhaps even down to a tattoo and/or an earring or two and dyed hair. Yet, their life experience has not allowed them to lead kids in a way that works—at least not for me. Having had a couple of run-ins between dance and church with this group of leaders, I’d write a different love letter:‘I applaud your dedication to the kids, and I praise God for your anointing. I thank you for showing our kids that you can love God openly and honestly and still be from planet Earth I think your intent is wonderful, and I wish I had your energy. But can I ask you something, honestly? My child doesn’t need videos or games to set the stage for the Word, so what happens to those like them who just want to learn and grow? Moreover, since our kids don’t fit into the clique of kids that you hang around and that think you’re “the bomb,” should we just go someplace else? Here are some other thoughts: When you take my kid hundreds of miles away to camp and won’t allow him use of a cell phone, please tell me something beyond “Cool!” when I ask you how he is doing. Though you relate well to the teens, you are not a teen. Please don’t tell young girls that baring their stomachs “looks hot” in front of my daughter or my son. Just because people are in church does not mean that they have been healed and delivered of all their issues. Don’t look at me as if something is hanging from my nose when I question areas where I think you are too trusting. I don’t mean to be harsh. I really don’t. I’ve just lived long enough to have seen some things, and I don’t want you to unintentionally fall into a trap, nor do I want another kid endangered because of your naiveté.
How do you transform these two “camps” into one? I’ve not seen co-leadership work well. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, and I’m certainly willing to believe that I could be a part of the problem. But I want to know, Lord, I want to know, and I’m trusting You to show me a sign.