Why Happy Accidents Matter in Children and Youth Ministry

Dear All Angels’ Family,

When you work with youth, one thing is consistent – you have to expect the unexpected.

These kids are full of surprises.

It’s one of my favorite things about this age group – you never know what might come out of their mouths. And can you blame them? They all woke up one day and realized “Oh my goodness – I have opinions on things! Are they the right ones? Will I get in trouble for thinking that? Will my friends like me if I think that? Maybe I’ll try them out. Or maybe I won’t. What’s happening to me??”

You get the picture. You never know how these newly formed thoughts are going to express themselves – just be ready for the happy accidents.

You have to expect the unexpected.

One of my favorite surprises of late took the form of a letter from a student I received just a few weeks ago.

The first surprise was that I got a paper letter.

These kids barely read their texts, and I got a real message in my real mailbox.

Charmingly, it was addressed to “Jack Richi Sanches’. I opened it swiftly.

First line: “Thank you so much for paying my bill for the pool cue I broke at the Jr High Retreat.”

What? I hadn’t thought twice about it!

I’m not even trying to paint myself as a hero here. The broken pool cue cost a grand total of $7. Accidents happen.

Yet he was grateful enough to write a letter. And not just any letter.

He continued to write that “a weight had been lifted’ from him and that he could now “walk freely” knowing he “did not have any debt to pay”.

I don’t know about you, but I rarely hear people be this raw.

He concluded: “Thank you so much for your generosity and helping me with my problems.”

I laughed throughout the letter – purely at the preciousness of such authenticity.

It was not my “amazing exegesis” of a bible passage that impacted this student. It was not the “purposeful theme” I put together for the retreat. It was not even the “groundbreaking approach to organic youth ministry” I was trying to implement.
It was the simple acknowledgement that his needs were not a problem.

This season in our life together has been marked by a lot of problems, and a lot of need. Moments like these remind me that I do not orchestrate and meet our youth’s deep need for connection – God does.

God moves in the hearts of our youth, even in the midst of strange times. They might not respond to what you do most of the time, but when they do, it comes out in extraordinary ways.

May that be a word of encouragement to parents, volunteers and all those who love our youth.

Sometimes all it takes for youth to blossom is a happy accident.

You have to expect the unexpected.



One thought on “Why Happy Accidents Matter in Children and Youth Ministry”

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Jack. Beautiful. I was struck by his choice of words that “a weight had been lifted’ from him and that he could now “walk freely” knowing he “did not have any debt to pay”. Isn’t that what Jesus does for us? He
    got the message through your simple action.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: