This week I've been preaching to teenagers at some nightly youth events. I've never really seen myself as a "youth leader" and have avoided "youth work" for most of my ministry. I wouldn't go as far as Philip Larkin but I've always understood his line about childhood: "Growing up I thought I hated everyone. Now I realise, it's just kids I hate."
I'm not saying I'm completely with Larkin. But I know exactly what he means. I spent my childhood wishing I was a grown up. And now every time I happen across Radio 1 I frown in stunned incomprehension - at the music, but even more at the DJs. I have never worn a "hoodie", still less one with a cool Christian slogan. And I have a violent allergy to all those motivational pep talks you hear at youth events, encouraging teens to "step up their commitment to Christ" and "burn for Jesus."
Thankfully these youth events weren't like that. And the kids just lapped up the Bible - obviously so. That's the cool thing about young people, if they're bored they'll let you know. If they're engaged they'll jump up and down on their seat in wide-eyed glee.
There was a moment on Wednesday when I was talking about Isaac - about to be sacrificed as the beloved son on a mountain on the region of Jerusalem (see more here). A girl in the front row turned to her neighbour and said loudly "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh. It's totally Jesus!"
And that's my favourite preaching feedback ever.