“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well...” 1 Thessalonians 2:8

It was a tradition that started with a group of City Life girls before my husband, Bryan, and I started dating.  Before long, he had joined as a volunteer to our City Life team and he had a group of teen guys he was pouring into relationally.  When Bryan and I got married, our two discipleship groups merged:  Tuesday night became Family Dinner night at the Gintz house.  Me with my 3 girls and Bryan with his 3 guys.  It was sort of like an ethnically diverse Brady Bunch.

My goal was to provide a nutritious dinner for 6 teenagers and 2 adults for under 25 dollars each week.  And although “the kids” (as they were called) didn’t have to pay, dinner wasn’t free for them.  They had to either cook, set the table or do the dishes or they weren’t allowed to eat.  It was crowded, noisy with some fights and there was a lot of laughter.  After the dishes, the boys met for their Bible study and prayer and us girls met in a different room to do the same.  Later, we would play a board games together. (The girls could whoop on the boys in some Sequence!!)

Me and some of the kids playing games after dinner.  They were so young here!!

While these family dinners made for longer days, they hold some of my fondest memories of urban youth ministry.  Just like with family, no one was rushing out the door.  In fact, if it went the kids way...they would have stayed all night long!

Spending time with City Life kids in this informal way was one of the key elements to really knowing the teens well - not just on a surface level.  Bryan and I ended up at school for their counselors' appointments and we helped them get their birth certificates and state IDs.  We taught some of them how to drive (that was a scary couple of months!!)  We reviewed applications for their first jobs, helped them buy their first cars and went to doctor’s appointments.  Eventually we helped them apply for college and stood at the altar with them when they got married.

Dre's First Day of College!

Mo's Wedding Day!

We have been delighted to share our lives with these young people.  They are our love, our heart, our passion.  Living our lives in this way also gave us the moral authority to challenge our volunteers to follow our example and live out their lives the same way with urban youth.

Now, “the kids” have kids!  I’m still eating dinner with one of my girls and her two children on a regular basis.  A couple of weeks ago, Bryan went shopping with one of our kids as this young man shopped for a Christmas present for his pregnant wife.  

What about you?  What elements of family are you brining into your City Life ministry in 2011?  Maybe you could host your own family dinner night?  I know you won’t regret it!  Maybe you already spend time weekly with a small group of City Life teens.  Post a comment and let us know how it is going!

P.S. Don’t call us Grandparents.  We are Aunt Lisa and Uncle Bryan, thank you very much. 

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