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It’s January: it’s cold, it’s dark. We’re all kinda over it. I was at church on Wednesday night (shoutout to KidsClubs!) chatting with some of the youth. The Upload was looking for a post on youth, and I thought, who better to summarize it than the youth themselves? May their answers encourage your heart during the season of frostbite.

What’s been the highlight of youth this year?

“The connections with my friends and the chats we get to have.”

“My friends. I’ve gotten closer to my friends and made more friends”

What’s been the wildest thing that happened at youth this year?

“On the youth retreat, we went on a night walk. It was wild. We just talked and went on the docks. We weren't supposed to, but we did.” #rebels.

“Probaby smashing my head on the ground by slipping at Jello Night” ... so sorry parents!

At youth we do small groups. What’s been the impact of small group in your life?

“[Small group] has helped me to learn more, and to learn more faster than if it were in a big group. You know the people in your small group better”

“Just knowing all of the support that I have”

“It helps me to make my faith a part of a group and not just my own, and to share that part of my life with one another… We are not all in this on our own but that we’re all in this together.”

What’s been one thing God has done in your life through youth?

“A moment when God felt really present was at the Uprising Conference. There were so many people there and just knowing that everyone is there because they all believe the same thing as you. It was a really awesome moment.”

“To know that I am accepted in the body I have and it’s what’s on the inside that counts”

“God is always there. You may feel like life is a complete mess at times, but He’s always there and looking out for us and will never give us more than we can handle”

“I’m in a community of believers and it’s not just me. If I have questions, I can always just ask one of my friends.”

“It’s helped me be able to make my faith my own and go deeper. We were taught how to do devotions and not just rely other people’s faith”

These youth are hilarious. They love eating tater tots & ice cream. They’re bright, kind, and servant-hearted. They love Jesus and exude joy. Every single one I chatted with emphasized the richness of Christian friends and the importance of having a community to grow in, such as Youth Group.

One of the great strengths of Youth is the tight-knit friendships that are formed within these walls on Friday nights. In a society that continues to be increasingly more isolated, perhaps relationships for teenagers are more pertinent now then ever before.

In my own life lately, I’ve been challenged to “lean in” to community. But to be frank, sometimes I’d rather not. I'm happy to sit and observe. Yet that’s not what God has directed Christians to do, and these youth are an example to me of that. Just as Jesus steps right into our mess, we are called to embrace those around us. And to allow others to embrace us. In this isolating & cold winter season, choose to step into grace and find your place to connect with other Believers.