I sat on the podium, heady with excitement, waiting to be introduced by the youth pastor of one of the largest, nondenominational congregations in the state. The church, which could accommodate several thousand people, was packed with teenagers and youth workers from all over the southwest. I had been asked to share my successful methods of reaching the younger generation for Christ.
“Piece of cake. I could do this in my sleep,” I said confidently to myself, as I glanced around the church. “I have really made the big time.”
I saw several members of my own youth group, Caleb’s Company, smiling at me enthusiastically. I smiled back, giving them a wink and a thumb’s up.
“Don’t forget that we’re stopping for pizza on the way home,” I signaled telepathically, sure that these teens, who I knew so well, could read my mind. They could already read my heart. They knew that I really cared about their lives.
As I sat listening to the special music presentation, I found my thoughts drifting back to the circumstances that had brought me to this place and time. After all, it was only a few years since I had become a born-again Christian. And while I was surrounded by seminary groomed youth ministers, I was virtually self taught. I liked to think that I had been chosen by God, taught by the Holy Spirit and a graduate of the same seminary that the apostles, Peter and John, had attended. That was a popular saying in those days.
At the bleakest moment of my twenty-seven years, I had accepted the Lord at home one night while watching a television evangelist. The next day, I had purchased a Bible and began to read and study, voraciously. It took me a year to find the right church.
With a pure heart and the zeal of a new believer, I had looked around for a ministry. In our relatively small congregation, I saw a handful of kids that looked like they could use some direction. After getting the approval of my Pastor, I announced one Sunday that I would be taking all interested children on a field trip the following weekend.
“The Church will provide lunch and transportation,” I spoke in faith, having every confidence that the Lord would provide these needs.
Thirty kids showed up for the field trip and “King’s Kids” was born. Before long, over a hundred children were hanging around the church on a regular basis. I visited the local orphanage and offered to fetch their young residents for Sunday morning services. Soon, the church had to buy a van and then, a bus, to accommodate all those who wanted to come to children’s church and the weekly fun activities.
The little kids started bringing their older brothers and sisters. Right away, I discovered an affinity with the pre-teen and teenage crowd. The church added two more worship services on Sunday mornings, one for junior high and one for high school. The youth began to outnumber the adults in attendance. Before long, I was offered a full-time position at the church and started to put together a volunteer staff.
Since I was young and single, I worked sixteen to eighteen hour days. Soon, I was invited to do Bible studies at the county juvenile detention center and the youth shelter for runaway teens. I published three newsletters a month, one for each age group in my ever-expanding ministry. Although I now had regular assistants, I continued to teach on Sunday mornings and personally conduct the activities of all three groups.
As our church’s phenomenal success with children and youth became known, speaking invitations began to pour in and here I was, with a top notch ministry opportunity.
As I was introduced, I shook hands with my host and stood proudly at the podium. Accustomed to speaking extemporaneously, I had not brought along a single note. I was depending on the Holy Spirit to help me bring a dynamic, inspiring message.
I opened my mouth to speak, but found myself at a complete and total loss for words. I suddenly realized that while building my “big” ministry, I had lost the Holy Spirit - probably on a water slide somewhere or possibly, at a Christian rock concert.
Totally embarrassed, I stumbled through a disjointed message. The Lord, however, was profoundly eloquent as He dealt with my heart on the error of my ways.
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