I sat in a planning meeting today with several caring local professionals. They hope to host a youth summit in our area, and our conversation eventually centered on the desired outcomes of the conference. We began brainstorming what we want to see happen in the students involved. In other words, “Who will they ultimately be when they leave this event because they were a part of it?”
After several minutes on that line of thinking, I raised my hand and offered an observation:
“It feels like we’re trying to create a bionic teenager. I don’t know if everyone remembers that old TV show the Six Million Dollar Man, but there was this concept in its opening theme that it feels like we’re sharing here – that we have the means to make students better than they were before… ‘better, stronger, faster.’
I think everything we’ve talked about are great values for kids to grow into, but if I were to force this on my own son he’d feel immense pressure because he can’t get there overnight (let alone consistently). Maybe we need to include the values of ‘rest’ and ‘journey’ somehow? Students can take steps this way, but they may need to intentionally pause along the way and take stock of their progress so they don’t crash because they feel they’re not yet perfect.”
My thoughts were met with enthusiasm, not to mention a lot of affirmation. I felt like I’d made a real contribution to the discussion.
- “Once kids go on this trip, their hearts will be forever transformed for Jesus.”
- “If I can only get that student baptized, then he/she will become a role model to the others.”
- “The more often students are consistent with youth group attendance, the more consistent they’ll be with Jesus.”
- “They have to start (reading the Bible/praying/fasting/tithing/singing) more if they hope to have a real breakthrough.”
Even just writing those made me realize how absurd they all are.
And yet… don’t thoughts like that creep into your head and planning, too?
The thing about bionics is that something unnatural was added to appear natural.
Hmm. Is that the end?