A couple weeks ago a crazy thing happened. A cyberattack targeted the pipeline that ran from the Gulf Coast to New Jersey. This happened on May 7. Thankfully with a full tank of gas, I was driving on May 11 and came to a standstill on Providence Road. This was crazy because traffic never stops on this part of the road. I just knew there was a car accident. As I creeped forward and moved to the inside lane, I noticed that there wasn’t a traffic accident. It wasn't road construction. It was a backup getting to a gas station! People were so afraid that they would run out of gas that they were filling up their tanks and gas cans. I even saw on Instagram that people were filling up trash bags of gas. People were so scared to be at a standstill and not able to get around or be able to move.
Last Sunday was amazing! We celebrated Pentecost with one of the largest crowds at our Providence campus since COVID. It’s so good to see faces we haven’t seen in over a year. Having conversations with people and youth that I haven’t seen in a while, I kept hearing similar experiences. I heard that it was so good to be back because some people were struggling. I’ve talked to youth after youth that have told me about hard times in their faith lives over the last year. They shared that they were in dark places. This isn’t just one or two youth; this is multiple. If several are willing to reach out and want to talk, think about how many youths’ faith lives have been shaped by COVID.
As I tried to get to the heart of what was going on, I asked more questions. I heard stories about how they participated in worship online, but they stopped the engagement with the community. They stopped going to Sunday school and youth groups because they were Zoomed out. They stopped talking to their church friends. They fell away.
I think of these youths as running out of gas. They didn’t have the spiritual nourishment they get from the community to sustain them in the world. They didn’t have the people they would see every week to walk beside them. They didn’t have their peers to support them in the rough times. They need to get refueled!
Last night the Steering Wheel Team met. This is a team made up of youth and adults that gives direction, plans and executes youth ministry. We decided that this would be the summer to “reconnect.” This is a summer to get refueled! We want the youth to get back together. If you are still not comfortable getting together in person, we’ll find ways virtually. Come, get fuel!