Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Post Dedicated to Randy Johnson

Randy Johnson was my youth pastor. He is a legend in Texas youth ministry; he's been doing the job since before I was born. He is prone to blurting our phrases such as "hot tamale!" or "holy moly, Jody!" or "joy to the world!".

This man changed my life, and Ben's life, in countless ways. He and our dear friend/children's minister Sweet basically taught us everything we know about ministering to young people. 

Essential lesson #1
The absolute key to a successful youth retreat is........
affirmation cards.
For those of you not lucky enough to spend your teenage years in Randy Johnson's youth group, an affirmation card is a little note of love or encouragement. At every camp or retreat of Randy's, you will be sure to find bags with each student and counselor's name attached lining the walls of some central area. Everybody is expected to write masses of these.

At our 11th grade retreat, all 25 students wrote every other student a love note. They could not wait to open their bags at the end.
 Some kids had an idea- they asked me if I would bundle up their cards and save them for a year. I'll return their cards the last week of their senior year.

Randy, I have every card I ever received in your youth group. Literally thousands of cards. I treasure them. Even more than ten years after receiving the first notes, I still find myself opening those envelopes and re-living the affirmation when I'm at my parents' house sometimes.

Thank you for teaching me how to love teenagers.


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