By Ken McCoy • JumpStart Ministries • Charlotte, North Carolina
I’ve been helping out with the youth ministry at a small country church near where I live. They’re a fairly-typical “church youth group” bunch – have been around each other since they were babies. Most of them go to the same school. You know the drill.
Last night, the youth meeting occurred in the middle of a raging thunderstorm – and yet we still had a bunch of kids show up, including a couple of newbies!
The meetings start off in the gym, with the guys (and some girls) shooting hoops while other kids hang out on the couches in the lobby. Then we have a gym game or two – last night we didn’t have power in the gym (because of the storm), so we played Blob Tag in the semi-darkness. Fun!
From there, the kids headed up to the youth room on the second story. They all “hit their face” to check in on the MinHub Youth app we use, and then scrambled for the few coveted couch seats available. We did some announcements, and then came time for the Bible lesson.
That’s when Tobymac showed up.
I wrote a Youth Leaders Only youth meeting guide for Toby’s very cool “I Just Need U” music video, so I wanted to field test it with this group of teenagers. I went through the “Transition” section (which does indeed follow the “Warm Up” of playing Blog Tag) and introduced the video. I encouraged the kids to pay attention for any symbolism they might notice. Then, I started the video.
And the kids talked all the way through it.
That’s not unusual behavior. Teenagers see SO many videos – probably several every day – that a music video is no big deal. Even one as engaging and excellent as this one is.
When the video ended, we had a rousing discussion about the different scenes and characters in the video and what they might represent. The group wasn’t all that experienced in finding meaning in what they watch, so I had to do some prodding to get them to think. Once they got the idea, though, they got into “reading between the lines” of the images and lyrics of the song and video.
I worked them through the three points of the Bible Study, and they really started to put two-and-two together. They could see more clearly what Toby was trying to communicate through his song and video. When I finished with the Bible study, they asked, “Can we watch it again? Now we know what to look for!” So, we showed the video again.
This time, they watched intently. They weren’t talking, laughing, or trying to crack jokes about what was on the screen – they were absorbing the images… and the message.
We finished with one question: “So what do you think Toby was trying to communicate when he lit his luggage and car on fire?” The kids caught the message – and spent a couple of minutes filling in the “My Baggage” section of the Student Guide.
Then, we went downstairs to the kitchen, where some older adults from the church had volunteered to provide food for the kids. While I was hanging out in the kitchen watching the kids get their meal, I overheard one of the adults ask a teenager, “What happened in youth group tonight?”
“Tobymac visited our group tonight!” was the response.
Yep, he did!