Discipleship Personal youth ministry

Revolutionary Teens in Mound


Last night was groundbreaking (again) for Mound Westonka youth. Oh, they don’t know it yet. But there is another mustard seed movement afoot. Small, invisible at the moment. MainStreet Church is determined to join God in the power of the Holy Spirit to launch another ‘youth movement’ for Jesus. It’s called The Alley based on Luke 14:21. 

A small group of Crown College youth volunteers along with youth intern Randy Giles met with some MWHS students at SurfSide to hangout and begin forging relationships that point them to Jesus. In another week they’ll meet for pizza to talk more about the movement Jesus is starting in Mound. I’m not leading it this time, but I’m passing the baton to Randy and others and trusting God will do a great thing. 

Read below some thoughts I shared 3 years ago looking back on the first revolution (2005-2010).  -JBRevCollage760x200I spent a couple years chasing a vision to spearhead a fresh movement of teenage Jesus followers in my hometown of Mound.  I have told the story of The Revolution many times in many places (and I will continue telling it because God is glorified in it).  It’s my favorite story to tell.  A little community of teens from all different church backgrounds (and no church background) gathered in our living room for a couple years.  Why?  They were invited into something bigger than a Sunday church service, more exciting than a Wednesday night youth group and something more radical than the version of Christianity they previously had embraced.

Keri and I had to step away from “The Revolution” just as it was taking off and gaining steam.  This was very hard for me to do. Who was going to take my place and lead these teens?  Who was going to teach them the revolutionary way of Jesus?  Who was going to remind them to come on Monday nights?  Where were they going to meet?  Would this grassroots community of curious, seeking, hungry for adventure teens dwindle and die?

I had to leave it in God’s hands.  This lesson is hardest for leaders to learn.  Leaders often have the toughest time being led themselves.  But I knew deep in my heart that Jesus had always been the real leader of this Revolution in Mound.  So, I stepped away.

It’s been 2 years since those teens walked out of our living room for the last time.  I have kept in touch with the kids now and then, hearing reports about if, where and when they are meeting.  At one point last summer I was told that the group had stopped gathering. That was a sad day for me.

However, this Monday I was invited to make a guest appearance at the Monday night “Way of the Revolutionary” Bible Study. We decided to meet out on Lake Minnetonka for a Galilee-like gathering in boats.  I was told to meet up with the group at a certain dock on the lake.  I set out across the lake, eager to see “my kids” again.  

Revolutionaries at Sonshine 2009

My heart soared and my spirit leaped as I pulled into the dock to see group of NEW faces staring back at me.  Oh, there were many familiar faces like Natalie, Andrew, Carrie, Erica and others.  But piling into my boat was a bunch of new recruits, fresh seekers who had been invited to check out this group who meets weekly to learn the revolutionary Way of Jesus.  We pulled out into the water and tied boats together and for the next 2 hours Kyle Pitts, a college-aged new leader of the group, asked me to tell the newbies about how this group got started.

So, I told the story of a God who calls ordinary people like me to step out in faith and dream of a new movement of the Spirit in a spiritually deprived town.  I told them how God had placed me in their school as a substitute teacher, basketball coach and Drivers Ed instructor in order to connect me with the students in town and set the stage for a new ministry plant.  I shared how God had given me a vision during a desperate prayer walk of reaching bored and de-churched teens in town through fresh, new approaches to ministry including using music to draw crowds to Christ.  I shared how I invited a crowd of 150 students to take the next step and check out the Revolution discussion/Bible Study group that was going to meet in my living room on Monday nights.  I shared how God brought other adult leaders into my path to join me in organizing large-scale “Battle of the Bands”, “Coffeehouse Live” events and the “Elevate” community-wide worship gatherings in the school auditorium.  God brought Bryan Royle, Joe Timm, Melissa Norman, Rachel Hull, Pastor Chad Dvoracek into the Revolution and we saw genuine “Kingdom cooperation” among people of different denominational backgrounds.  I told them how all the buzz surrounding this “Jesus Revolution” regularly made the local newspaper.  They heard articlehow this group of students started a Thursday Morning Bible Study (THUMBS) that meets weekly before school by the gymnasium to pray and encourage one another.  God was on the move, and teens were very curious to know more about this movement of Jesus followers.

So, I told them the story of how the God of the Bible is the same God today and he is looking for bold, obedient, crazy people who are willing to trust him for their future.  We discussed the recklessness of a God who chooses ordinary teenagers like them to be the “light of the world” and bring the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ to their friends, their school, their families.  I told them how strange they are: a group of high school and college students meeting on a perfect summer evening on Lake Minnetonka to learn the ancient way of Jesus.  (By the way, I learned that these teens are meeting a the beach at 7:30 in the MORNING all summer to pray over the town!)  That is revolutionary!

I am so proud of this group of teens.  They have caught a glimpse of the true calling of the church in the world.  They are fired up about being a peculiar people who don’t march to the beat of the culture.  More encouraging for me, I realized that I was never really the main leader of this group in the first place.  This group is following Jesus, and letting His Word be their sole guide for life.

So, I just want to encourage other youth workers out there who may feel like your message is falling on deaf ears and your students are just not “getting it.”  They CAN get it.  You may have to recast the vision of the Kingdom or repaint the picture of the church for students who still can’t see the radical, exciting mission behind all of the boring religious rituals and traditions, artificial services and programs.  Keep telling the stories about irresponsible fishermen who leave business and home to follow this Jesus. Keep inviting them along on the travels of Paul to see what radical faith really looks like.  Keep tearing down all the boring stereotypes keeping teens running away from the church.

Keep imitating Christ yourself so your kids will see your own passionate faith and want to mimic you.  Lord, keep me radical for you!  And to all my revolutionary disciples meeting Monday nights in Mound: I’m proud of you!  Keep being a mustard seed movement for the glory of God in Mound!

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