Last night in the basement of a house in Lake Hopatcong, NJ, our entire youth staff had fallen face down on the floor in humble adoration of the cross, of grace, and of our Saviour. It was a moment I won’t soon forget as it was the moment that could very well catalyse a new movement within the Liquid community to pour into the next generation like never before.
I won’t bore you with all the details of the changes in store for our SM program or annoy you with boastings of some of the great things we have planned as a youth ministry, but I will tell you this: never before have I felt that my journey in faith had landed somewhere until now.
I can’t pinpoint an exact moment when I placed my trust in Christ, but at some point just two years ago, I knew beyond any doubt that my life belonged to the King of the universe. And over the course of the last two years I went through so many changes and shifts that I began to lose any sense that I even remotely resembled the Nate Nakao prior to 2007.
And while I still feel like I’m in a bit of a “dip,” my future is beginning to come into focus just a little more. But even if the specifics change, I know without any lack of conviction that the rest of my life will be dictated by this sentence: I love the next generation.
I took on an interim directorial role for the children’s program at Liquid, but as I look back on my term in that position, I realize, to my shame, the lack of seriousness I had with the role. I was tasked with taking the gospel to a future generation, and I could barely stay focused long enough to complete that task Sunday to Sunday. It’s a wonder the program didn’t fall apart with me at the helm.
But the gravity of my calling hit me last night. My role as a youth leader is one of utmost importance. My task is a grave and urgent one. My Missio Dei is the same as that of all others: take the gospel to all. But in its specificity, my mission calls me to the youth culture. A culture where the idea of a Creator God who loves them enough to die for them is a foreign idea. A culture that is crying out for connection in all areas that they turn to social media—the greatest tool for and weapon against the fulfillment of their desire to connect. A culture that has found something to live for, but is longing for something to die for.
And so I go forward, taking what I’ve learned and experienced these last few years and building it into who I am going to be.
I lay for my life a foundation characterised by:
Grace – Nothing distinguishes the believer more than his/her unbounded love.
The Cross – The Chosen one of God selected death as his means to bring life to a dead world. It is the central point of history and the fabric by which all life holds together.
The Culture – The point at which I am ineffective in connecting to the culture is the point at which I cease to live out my call. Universally, the point at which any believer ceases to communicate effectively with the culture that surrounds him/her is the point at which he is no longer fulfilling the Missio Dei given directly to him/her in Matthew 28.18-20.
Today I declare my life’s mission. And every tomorrow to follow will carry with it an opportunity to live my mission. My prayer is that I will seize every one of those opportunities. I just hope I never miss one again.