Read or purchase the series at The Gifted Book Series
The youth group that the teens go to in this book is taken from bits and pieces of the two youth groups I belonged to while I was growing up, and the youth group I lead now.
My second youth pastor at Canton 1st Church of the Nazarene called our group CrossTraining. I’ve taken that as the name for my current youth group as well. The Canton 1st group was great. We had a huge room for table games, video games run through a projector, a snack bar where you could buy candy and pop, and a sitting area with a couple of couches. So the room I describe at God’s Love is pretty much what we had at Canton 1st. Like Jenny in this scene, we also had a mentally handicapped man who liked to hang out with the teens on Sunday mornings. I don’t remember his real name, but we all called him “Coach”, because he really liked sports. He would come to our Sunday School classes, but never youth group.
The teens in the God’s Love group are the actual teens in my youth group at Alpha Nazarene now. Macey, Matthew, Haven, Maria, and Kylie were my core students at the time Coming of Age was written. Their actions and conversation are taken from things they actually did and said that year.
The God’s Love youth group band, Paragon, is the band I was in at Canton 1st. We started out playing praise choruses for the youth group, but then started adding our own songs and eventually had enough original material to make our own cd and play a few gigs around town.
We used to have skits during youth group (I was part of the drama team), but the skit I describe at God’s Love is one that my current students did on a Sunday morning at Alpha.
The talk that Pastor Scott gives is the talk that Sal Varsalone gave the night I committed my life to Christ. Sal was the youth pastor at the 11th Street Church of God, the church where my mom took me before she died, and the church I attended before I started going to Canton 1st. Sal took about five of us teen boys on a retreat one weekend. I think I was about thirteen at the time. He said that God, this huge God of the Universe, wanted to hang out with us boys. It was a very humbling and flattering thought. It still is. He said that Jesus had even died so that God could have a relationship with me. And I remember thinking, If God is that serious about me, if He wants to have a relationship with me that badly, then I need to get serious about Him. I was a Christian before that, but that was the night I really gave myself to Him completely. That was the night I went from calling Jesus “Savior”, to calling Him “Lord”.Read or purchase the series at The Gifted Book Series