This coming Sunday is youth Sunday at Zion! The youth will be leading all aspects of the worship services that day and have been planning and preparing for the opportunity to do so. At the beginning of the school year, our student leadership team picked a theme of “Gone Fishin’!” So all school year, at youth group, we’ve been studying stories of the Bible that have to do with fishing, fishermen, boats, or fish. Even our yellow youth group t-shirt for this year reflects our theme with a Guy Harvey print of the “Old Man.”
The primary piece of Scripture that the youth will be using for youth Sunday is the story of Peter walking on the water from Matthew 14. The theme for the worship service is “Initiative: Peter Got Out of the Boat.” Kara Kleckley, our youth group president is preaching at both worship services. So, I’ve been digging through the Scripture trying to look at it from all angles and help her prepare her sermon. In most everything I’ve read online and in my commentaries, I’ve noticed something! Peter sure does get a bad rap. Poor guy!
Almost everything I read commented that if only Peter would have kept his eye on Jesus, imagine what could have happened! But I say kudos to Peter for even stepping out of the boat in the first place! I can only imagine how scary putting the first leg over must have been for Peter. Can’t you? It was the middle of the night and there was a storm raging around the boat. Hello … who in their right mind would do that?
Who would do that … I think that is the whole point of the story. Through this story, Jesus calls you and I to step out of the boat, too. But many times, we are like the 11 other disciples who you notice didn’t step out of the boat. We stay seated on our comfortable little “boats” and never step into the “stormy” waters and have faith enough that Jesus will keep us from “drowning.”
This is a huge challenge for leaders (paid and volunteer) in youth ministry! On a regular basis, we should be encouraging today’s youth to step out of their comfort zones. But, we first have to set the example of stepping out of ours. How can we expect someone else to do something that we are not willing to try ourselves?
This is why I think things like youth mission trips and projects (in and out of our own communities) are important. This is why allowing youth to serve in leadership roles in the church and at school (and at home) is important. This is why volunteering to teach Sunday school or chaperone a youth lock-in all night even though we don’t want to get up early on Sunday or think we are too old to stay up all night, are important!
Notice, Jesus never said it would be easy to step out of the boat and walk on the water. But, he did say “Come!” So … Come!