“These men who are turning the world upside down have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” (Acts 17:6-7)
I spent some years as a youth pastor in a larger established church running a big youth program for teenagers. Strobe lights and electric guitars, silly mixer games and relevant “talks,” retreats and lock-ins, and endless appeals to “bring a friend next week.” This was all good, and God showed up and used every bit of it for his purposes.
Still, I wouldn’t trade my experience this week at mainStreet with 3 of our youth for all those things. Our small church launched “Jason’s House” this past year with a handful of youth ranging 4th grade to 8th grade. The 4-6 of us gather to learn how to follow the Way of Jesus in this wayward world.
I’m so proud of the way these guys have chosen to embrace the age difference, and instead of complaining that they are not with friends their own grade, they see themselves as a little brotherhood (it’s all boys at this point) who are called to look after one another like family.
The name “Jason’s House” comes from Acts 17:6-7 where the early Christians are being hunted down for “turning the world upside down…proclaiming another King named Jesus.” The little group of Jesus-followers were meeting in the house of a guy named Jason. Some 2,000 years later, we are gathering at Jason’s House to continue exploring what it means to follow King Jesus and live out his “upside-down Kingdom values.”
At our final gathering of the school year, four of us walked to the Drive-In for some chicken strips and ice cream and to recap the year together. As we walked down the bike path, the image of these 3 boys walking down a narrow path side-by-side moved me. I immediately thought of Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:13-14:
“Wide is the road that leads to destruction and many are following it. Narrow in the WAY that leads to the truly good LIFE, and few are on it.”
I just had to grab a photo of this dynamic scene. As a small church with a handful of youth, we constantly need to reject the idea that we are missing out because we don’t have a big youth program with many kids showing up. Without all the distractions of the “bells and whistles” (staffing, permission slips, etc.) that come with large programs, we are free to simply pursue the task of learning to walk the Way of Jesus and reminding ourselves that Jesus himself predicted it would often be the road-less-traveled with few on it.
So, over greasy food and chocolate malts, we talked about the importance of building our summers on the foundation of Jesus’ teachings, like a wise builder who built his house upon the rock. Many hear the teachings of Jesus but don’t put them into practice, like a foolish man who builds on a sandy foundation. Many are crammed onto the wide road that leads to misery and self-destruction.
I’m so grateful these young men are willing to put aside “hanging with the cool crowd” at the “cool youth group,” and embrace this opportunity to learn how to walk the narrow WAY of Jesus together, even when there’s only a few of us some nights. This summer the boys are going to be reading the Letter of James, the brother of Jesus on their own and with their parents. After a discussion about the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, we thought it would be fun to make ancient-looking scrolls of James’ letter to read under the covers and on the go this summer. :)