I worked at a pizza place in high school – the greasy small town kind that is absolutely awesome. A bunch of high schoolers worked with me who I liked well enough, but no one compared to Daniel. Daniel was our delivery driver that we hired who was awesome and cool and had a vague air of mystery because he was *gasp* already out of high school.
He was friendly and nice and … well really, looking back now, I’m not sure what I liked about him other than he was there and he was graduated… but I sort of did. He asked me out and I told him my contingency was that he came to church with me. And 16-year-old me thought, “wow… I might have just saved this guy’s spiritual life. I am pre-TTY cool.”
So I sat in my church service the next several weeks thinking every car that drove by was him. *spoiler alert* it never was. But as I was listening to whatever the pastor was talking about and we stood and sang from old red hymnals with a funeral dirge tempo accompanied by a slightly off-key organ, I realized how… well, weird it was and wondered if inviting someone to my church would actually help them get to know Jesus or push them away.
Fast forward 11 years later and my 27-year-old self is working at a church that is almost a 180-degree turn from the church I grew up in. One of my longest friends who doesn’t know what to believe about religion, God, or a higher power at all is coming to visit youth group with me and all I can think and pray is, “oh, God, please… don’t let it be weird tonight.”
It IS middle school youth group, to be fair, So it’s always weird.
But as my students talked about what “me too” meant from the giant mural on our wall (that we all face hard times and have all done things that are wrong so we don’t stand in judgment, but rather in authentic community together) and why they wanted little bucket charms and a sticker that says, “Don’t try to get from anyone or anything what you can only get from God,” I realized it wasn’t weird. And it might actually be showing my friend what it actually looks like to follow Jesus. And the awesome and better life that He offers.
Who knows what she’s thinking.
But if you think about it, it’d be pretty awesome if you prayed for her.
**Disclaimer: This is not to say that I don’t appreciate and/or love the church I grew up it. It’s different from where I go now, but the people that go there love each other and learn about Jesus.