I love stereotypes. I know I am not supposed to, but most of the time they are funny because there is a chuck of truth in them. And as far as youth ministry goes, pizza is the one and only food group. Pizza is the anchor to our ministry philosophy and model. While I try so hard to be healthy and provide food options that actually have nutritional value for our students, pizza is still my go to food! And when not pizza, then Oreo's and milk.
No matter if you are a health conscious youth ministry or you lean into the way of your forefathers by embracing the Costco $10 extra large pizza, there is something vital to the health of our ministry that is closely linked to providing food for the body and for the soul.
Sharing a meal is a way to share life.
I think has to do with the way in which God created us. He made us to be in relationship, to be in intimate relationship. The way that intimacy is expressed most appropriately throughout all time and all cultures is by sharing table fellowship together. Even in a suburban, western, where individualism and isolation are king, there is still something intimate about eating a meal together.
In Luke 14, Jesus tells a story about a man who is having a banquet and who invites his friends to celebrate with him. His friends reject him, and the invitation is then sent out to the weakest and poorest, and there is still room, and the invitation is sent out to the foreigner, until the house is full. It is God's heart to be in fellowship with His people. To host a meal express to those who are invited that they are seen, known, and valued. They are important enough to pay for and prepare food for.
When we provide food for our students we have an opportunity to express God's heart for them in a really intimate way. (Without it even feeling that intimate) Inviting students to a meal, or sharing a meal before youth group says to a student that you want to be with them, that you value them, that you want to know them. And every human needs this!
Sharing a meal is an eschatological experience.
One day, we will all experience the fullness of this when Jesus ushers in the fulfillment of His Kingdom! But until that Day, you and I get to take on the flesh of Jesus, be His actual body, His hands and feet, and usher in part of this experience here on Earth as it will be in Heaven. We are creating an eschatological experience simply by ordering a $10 pizza from Costco!
For as much as youth ministry stereotypes are funny and often true, let us not forget the nobility of our high calling, and see pizza as not just a simple go to for our youth ministry, but see pizza as the tool we use to express God's heart of love and mercy towards are students!
May we be the body of Christ and provide an experience where our students are seen, known, and valued by a simple invite to share a meal together. And may that meal be PIZZA!