This year’s theme is “The People.” Today we are exploring…..

The People who show up

Jen Van Camp

Jen Van Camp has been the youth pastor at Nineteenth Avenue Baptist Church in San Francisco, CA for over 8 years now.  She grew up in Lexington, KY, and is a graduate of Cumberland College and McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta.  She loves her niece and 3 nephews, her little dog Chito, all things music, pop culture trivia, and of course, Kentucky basketball.

Ministering in a small church means you don’t have the big numbers in youth group (or any other group, for that matter.)  This can sometimes be disheartening and there are plenty of times I’ve wished we had a bigger group and spent time stressing out about how many youth were going to come to this event or that.  But I have learned (sometimes the hard way) that there is so much value to those who do show up week after week and instead of wishing my life away on how I want things to be, focus on the ones who are committed and there on a consistent basis.  Just the act of showing up is important, sometimes it’s the only thing we really feel like we can do, and so I want to honor that whether I have 2 or 10 showing up to our weekly youth group time, Sunday School, or event.

I don’t want to give less than my best no matter how many (or how few) show up because each student is important and they are carving time out of their increasingly busy lives to come and learn something about faith and God.  I want to cultivate community as well as the individual faith journeys of each student, and honestly, that is sometimes easier to do with a smaller group.  I am able to know each of them individually, what makes them happy and what brings them down, their family situations, where they’ve been, and an inkling of where they are in their spiritual journey.  We are able to really take time to share what’s going on with one another so that not only I know who’s struggling or who’s really excited about something in life, but each one of them does as well and they can relate to one another on a very personal level.

So I will joyfully take the few who really want to be there and be the best youth minister I can be to them, to help make their youth group experience a good one and to hopefully help them to encounter God in their lives.  After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?  I’m grateful for those who show up!