One evening last Fall, responding to a knock on the door, I was confronted by two young members of our Hudsonville church. Having recently received several committees seeking contributions, I instinctively reached for my checkbook, supposing that I was about to be asked for another contribution. As it turned out, I was asked to contribute, not money, but time as a leader of the Hudsonville Young People’s Society. To be frank, it was my first inclination to refuse, for after all I do have a busy schedule and …. But even while I was thinking up the stock excuses, and perhaps a few original ones of my own, I heard myself saying “Yes, I’ll be glad to.” I answered in the affirmative, I suppose because I felt it was my obligation if for no other reason than by virtue of the fact that I had been selected by the society for the job. Moreover it is my conviction that the instruction of our young people is of vital importance, not only to them, but also to the church as a whole. Also, I had previously served as a young people’s leader, and had found the experience rewarding—I hope mutually so. I expected no less here and I haven’t been disappointed in my expectations.
It is my purpose here to consider a few of the rewards of the young people’s society leader. In discussing these rewards it will be necessary to consider the various aspects of society life and the involvements of the leader.
In many respects the young people’s society is similar to other societies and Bible study groups. The young people’s society exists principally for the purpose of providing our young people with the opportunity to meet together to discuss and study the Bible. In some respects, however, the young people’s society differs from other societies. As might be expected, the young people’s societies are more active — there are numerous parties, banquets, etc. But it isn’t all fun and games — there are also the money raising activities: car washes, baked goods sales, etc. Our Hudsonville young people visit shut-ins and the rest home each Christmas, distributing fruit baskets and singing Christmas songs — no generation gap here! If there were no other rewards in leading young people’s society, being a part of an activity such as this would be reward enough.
I will briefly describe a few of my experiences as a young people’s society leader and let the reader draw his own conclusions concerning the rewards.
As assistant leader in Redlands I was invited to the young people’s outings at which water skiing was usually the central activity. So I owe my present finesse on the ski board to my young friends of the Redlands’ society. I would like to take this opportunity to correct a mistaken impression that, I understand, certain Redlands people have of me plowing through the water, clutching on to the tow rope, with a terrified expression on my face. I will admit that my form is rather unusual; however I was not frightened. My countenance was one of sheer concentration, as I repeated to myself the first rule of water skiing (let go of the rope when the feet and skis part company), a rule which I did not heed my first time out.
I should also inform the unenlightened reader concerning the strangest of activities that I have observed during my experiences as a leader. This activity is called a hay ride. My first involvement with this affair occurred last Fall. When I arrived at the appointed meeting place to begin the hay ride the preliminaries had already begun. There were between two to three thousand young people all running around, shouting at the top of their lungs. This struck me as strange since we don’t have that many young people in our churches; however, if hearing is believing, judging from the noise and commotion, there were at least that number there. Another thing that struck me as rather strange was the fact that for all of these would-be hay riders there were only three small wagons about two feet by three feet I guessed, although they may have been longer. My sense of judgment may have been somewhat impaired in all of this din and confusion. At any rate I stood back and waited for the more experienced chaperones to bring order out of this chaos so that the hay ride could begin. After some time of waiting I concluded that there were no other chaperones, or if there were they were hiding somewhere. Then as I was contemplating how to bring the meeting to order, as though by some prearranged signal, every one converged upon these three small wagons. A surprisingly large number managed to scramble onto the wagons. Somehow or another I found myself among that number. The others ran behind as the wagons pulled by tractors started off down the road. The runners were not content with their lot for long, and began to dislodge the riders. The dislodging process was usually not gentle. I’ll not go into any more details here except to say that somehow everyone finished the hayride in one piece, and that about a hundred and twenty of the original two thousand or so participants materialized at the basement of the Hudsonville Church afterward to enjoy hot chocolate and lunch. This should suffice to give the reader at least one leader’s view of certain of the activities engaged in by our young people’s societies.
I would also like to express a few opinions and observations concerning the weekly Bible discussion meetings, and about the involvement of the society members in these meetings. We hear so much today about becoming involved. This is good if we become involved in the right things, and in the proper way. For example we can become involved in our Sunday worship services by studying the Lord’s day that will be the topic of one of the sermons. In church services we should all be involved as active listeners, rather than passive listeners. This requires concentration, but if we are to derive benefit from our worship services this kind of involvement is necessary. In society meetings we are involved in a somewhat different way. Here we have the opportunity to speak our minds on the Bible texts under consideration as well as to listen to the results of the cogitations of others. Of course to really benefit from such a discussion, it is necessary that we do our homework. That is, it is necessary to study the texts that we expect to discuss. Those who develop this habit find society meetings interesting and spiritually edifying. The problem is that many have not developed this habit, and these necessarily find society meetings uninteresting. They sit back in a rather detached manner as a spectator waiting to be entertained. Naturally they are disappointed for society meetings are not for entertainment purposes. Then there are the self appointed critics who mumble, among themselves, criticisms of those who are active participants. Quite frankly I have come away from society meetings, bitterly disappointed at the lack of interest and reverence displayed by some toward the Word of God.
But lest the reader receive an inaccurate impression, I hasten to add that I have experienced some of the most spiritual uplifting and rewarding moments at young people’s society meetings.
I have found that the young people are less likely to be satisfied with what we might consider stock “Protestant Reformed” answers, without understanding the reasoning behind the answers. This is a very encouraging sign to me, for the person who can be programmed to give stock “Protestant Reformed” answers could also be programmed to give almost any kind of an answer under the influence of a capable programmer. You may be certain that there are some very capable programmers around, especially on the college campuses. Some of these programmers pass themselves off as conservative reformed thinkers. I have witnessed some disastrous consequences of the work of these particular programmers. Therefore it is important that our young people be thinking Christians who know why they are Protestant Reformed rather than merely knowing how to be Protestant Reformed.
The most encouraging sign to me is the concern exhibited by our young people over the enormous disparity between our walk and that which God requires of us. Such concern can only come from a regenerated heart. It is evident to this young people’s leader that our Lord is working in the hearts of our young people, preparing tomorrow’s church. I thank God for this, and for the privilege that I have had to be used in this work.
*Mr. Huber is further involved with young people in that he presently teaches mathematics at Covenant Christian High School in Walker, Michigan,