One of my duties as youth minister is to teach confirmation. I co-teach our first year class (6th graders mostly) along with our lay-minister. The thing that stinks about is is that all year I get attached to a class, and then I rarely see them the next year. I hear from the pastors how the 2nd year class is going, but I wish I could be in there with them and seeing how they grow.
At the end of the 2nd year confirmation class, they have to write an essay called "What my Faith in Jesus Means to Me." They read it the Friday before they get confirmed in front of their families, friends, the church elders, and other congregation members who wish to attend. It's a pretty cool night. Those little 6th graders who don't know which way they are going suddenly are teenagers (or almost teenagers), all dressed up, looking almost adult-like, sharing these deep and intense thoughts about God, faith, and life.
I get to read their rough drafts. I love it. What's cool is that a lot of times not even their parents have heard these before they read them in front of everyone. I get to have a sneak peek into their thoughts before everyone else.
What's even better - is that they teach me about faith.
Here are some of the lessons this group of Jr. High kids have taught me:
"My faith is what keeps me going when I want to quit, it's what keeps me alive in Jesus, without it I'm dead. It is a deep, sincere love for God and his ways, but most important, it's my believe in Jesus Christ, my savior who have his life so I could live." - 7th grade boy
"My faith in Jesus means that I don't have to be afraid of anything because he will be there with me every step of the way. If I'm having bad days or if I"m having good days Jesus will be right there with me." - 7th grade boy
"Trusting community around you is important. But having faith in Jesus is different. When people believe in him, there is a sense of protection. Jesus cares for us, whether he be in earth or heaven." - 7th grade girl
"I loved to see all of the Bible stories fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle." - 7th grade boy
"My faith makes me sure of what I cannot see." - 7th grade girl
"Being a Christian is all about the Lord - but it is also about you." - 7th grade boy
"Jesus didn't die for himself but for us. He forgives all sins no matter who the person or what the condition is, through thick or thin. Just thinking about it strengthens my faith." - 7th grade boy
"God is my whole entire past, present, and future." - 8th grade girl
"Even though it is not easy I know that Jesus is with me and helping me, but when I do mess up I know that he forgives me." - 7th grade girl
"That is why I am so proud to know that with Jesus I have a savior, a friend, and someone that can help anyone, young or old, change the world." - 7th grade girl
"Me being a Christian is like putting peanut butter with jelly... it just goes together." - 7th grade boy
"Before I started confirmation last fall, I wasn't connected with Jesus at all. Now, after two years of confirmation, I can proudly say that my faith in Jesus means everything to me." - 7th grade girl
Huh... so maybe they were listening after all? ;)