Thursday, June 5, 2014

Throwback Thursday: A Youth Ministry "Oops!"

Let me begin by saying that it seemed like a good idea at the time. Simple, innocent and funny is what we were going for. In retrospect, it was probably doomed to disaster from the very beginning. This story is true, although my memory may be faulty. If you were there, please comment with your additions and corrections!

David Tebbs, the Youth and Christian Education Director of North Carolina Yearly Meeting in the mid 1980's was leaving that position at the end of the 1987 FUM Triennial Sessions. After a rocky start, David was someone I had come to like and respect a great deal. He was a strong Christian and someone who had brought great spiritual depth to the youth programs of NCYM. David was also someone we loved to harass. His shy, conservative demeanor and his appearance reminded us of the great Pat Boone (without the white shoes!), and he embarrassed and blushed quite easily. It seemed to us that we needed to give him a proper farewell at the end of Triennials, and if we could see that famous blush, so much the better!

The "we" in this case consisted of Tom Klaus from Iowa Yearly Meeting and Brent Bill from Western Yearly Meeting- and myself. Both Tom and Brent held the same position as David in their respective Yearly Meetings, and both were published writers who held a level of respect among the Quakers gathered in Greensboro that week. I was just hanging out with them because I had known them for a while and because we had way too much fun when we were together. The three of us brainstormed what we could do to "get" David, and somehow, at someones suggestion, decided to bring a belly dancer into one of the final sessions of the event. My memory is that Tom made the call (and since I know Brent reads this on occasion, I will place the blame on Tom) and ordered the dancer. He explained that this was for a pastor, in front of a couple of hundred young people, and that it was imperative that she be a G-rated belly dancer. It was all set, and we were excited to see just how red David's face could be!

We met the dancer backstage and she looked great- a true belly dancer with all the bells and whistles!  We again confirmed who she was there for and that it needed to be a conservative performance. We sat David in a chair, made some sort of introduction, and brought her out. There were hoots and hollers, and David turned bright pink before she ever started. But then she began to dance- and our jaws dropped. If this dance was G-rated, we DID NOT want to see PG!  She was all over David, and the atmosphere became very tense. From off stage the three amigos began sharing with each other how much we had enjoyed youth ministry and discussing what our next careers might be. It was awful. We looked out at the crowd, which was divided into three camps. The youth were loving it. The adults who had come over for this special occasion were mortified. David's wife was ready to faint. As it all ended, we considered making a break for it before the lynching started, when a small miracle saved us. David's father, Jack, a well respected pastor himself, was standing, laughing and clapping. Others who had been planning our demise also began to smile. Even David's wife was laughing. Our jobs (and lives) were spared!  We were forgiven to the point that Brent came and spoke for the youth of NCYM that August, and I went to Iowa to speak the following summer. But for a few minutes, we thought it was the big OOPS...  As it turned out I had years to go and many smaller "oops" to experience before the big one. And to David Tebbs, wherever you are, I hope someone is reading this to you and making you blush!

Because of Jesus,

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