McDonalds with these stragglers for a late night snack. We sit around McDonalds laughing and talking and eating far more calories and fat grams than any human being should consume that late at night!
This past week the stragglers numbered more than 15 teens plus four youth workers. I’m not quite sure what the people in McDonald’s thought when we all came pouring into the place just after 10 PM. But as I listened to the group laugh and talk, it occurred to me that perhaps that was one of the most crucial moments of our youth ministry that night. Though I was tired and would have rather gone straight home, I realized the importance of building a sense of community among teenagers.
In a society in which half of all marriages end in divorce and many children are growing up isolated from their extended families; young people often don’t have the support they need for a successful life. Giving them safe, healthy and wholesome places to be together and helping them build a sense of community among themselves is one of the greatest things the church can offer teenagers. Whether we do it in the actual church building, or in a McDonalds, the result is the same. Young people need to feel like they belong.
Though a casual observer watching our group at McDonalds may not realize what they are seeing, those who watch more closely will realize that it is a very much a “worship service” at The Church of McDonalds. In that place we were “being” the church. Though we may not have our Bibles open in a formal Bible study, our lives are open and display the truths of the Bible lived out in real life experience. Though we may not verbally sing praise songs to Jesus, our hearts are filled with praise and the laughter on our lips honors the One whom we live our lives for. Though it not look “spiritual,” what happens at McDonalds has a profound spiritual impact on those who regularly attend services at The Church of McDonalds because they know they belong to a solid group of Christians who love God and love each other. That sense of belonging is vital in the discipleship process. If you are finding your sense of “belonging” in Christ is not as strong as you may want it to be, fill your car with some Christian friends and head over to The Church of McDonalds. You might be surprised what a difference it will make!
Learn more about reaching young people in Dr. Terry Dorsett's book, Mission Possible: Reaching the Next Generation through the Small Church.