There was a lady named Lorna Holly who lived across the street from where my parents owned a cabin on church campgrounds. I had known her since I was a young girl and always felt loved by her. Later in life, I learned she had been a Nazarene pastor from the age of 19 until she could no longer preach and teach. She was now in her late nineties and lived in her little home across the street.
I decided late one summer night to stop in. I’d like to say my visit was the gift of the Spirit and I think if she was still alive she would agree.
Gently I knocked on the door, “Mrs. Holly?,” I inquired softly.
“Oh hello, dear,” she said. “Please come in”.
Her house smelled musty like older folks homes do. I’m not sure if they lose their sense of smell with age or if their very homes antique with them into a glorious distinctive aroma. Anyways, she engulfed me in her embrace. Seems like God is always putting skin on and walking around among us in ways we can feel, touch, sense and smell.
We talked about many things and she listened. What a gift! A saint, full of wisdom, experience and knowledge who was not eager to impart such knowledge but who humbly listened. In her listening she named one of ways God shaped and formed me to be faithful. She said, “Diane, you must preach and preach holiness!”
I submit 90-year old Lorna Holly was and is one of the best youth pastors who ever lived. Why? Because she extended to me an invitation into her home where she had been seeking God's presence.
After 8+ years of working with young people in some form of youth ministry or another, I firmly believe this is the most important thing we do as youth pastors. We create spaces for young people to encounter God and we welcome them into the places where the saints have encountered God in the past.
Mike King seems to agree as he writes about this in his book "Presence-Centered Youth Ministry". Don't take my word for his incredible insight in his book; check out this review by a fellow youth work supporter.
You can find Mike's book and other resources he would recommend at a page from his blog linked to Amazon. Click here to access.
With hope for God to infuse our work with young people,
Loving God, Loving Neighbor