Published on November 18, 2016 by John Woods  
Chase sometimes wears a bowtie to church, and when he does, it always catches my eye. From where I lead the service, I can see him only out of the corner of my eye. There are times I have to avoid looking over there, like when I’m leading the choir. He, and sometimes his friends, are always trying to make a funny face and trip me up. But instead, I’m often overwhelmed with gratitude that they know I’m watching for them, and that I’m an observer and partner in their worship.

I now work diligently to move my students beyond the “Oh the young people are singing, how sweet” expectation to the “I saw Jesus Christ in the craftsmanship and excellence of those students.” It’s not everything, but it’s a start.

It was a tough year for Chase and his family. While in my view the reaction to Chase’s misjudgments were much too severe, the path forward was clear. After getting caught up with the wrong group, Chase ended up changing schools. This process for a high school boy was painful for both he and his family. During a time where many were offering judgment instead of redemption, Peter also had to do an overwhelming amount of studying for some leveling tests in order to move to the new school. So, I’m leaving a hospital visit one day when my phone vibrates. “I do not believe that God never gives you more than you can handle.” It was Chase. “I agree with you. Who told you that?” “It’s just what I always heard.” This conversation continued with Chase expressing sadness and frustration at the amount of work there was to do ahead of him. And I couldn’t blame him; it was overwhelming. Yet in the midst of that conversation, I think Chase’s faith went to a deeper place, or at least I hope so.

I now make it a point to carefully but responsibility invite deeper conversations about matters of faith with questions like, “Where has it been hardest to trust God lately?”

Teenagers want their faith to be deeper than most adults expect, but are often not invited into deeper conversations. I’m always grateful for the ways teenagers answer these hard questions, and I’m grateful for the deep conversations we have together as a result.

Will you be intentional to invite teenagers into deeper and more meaningful conversations? The results may surprise you.