1 Phineas Ferb:12
When you're a parent, you're exposed to a lot of cartoons. Most of them you tolerate. Some annoy the fool out of you. Some have a seemingly innocent premise that becomes sinister once you start thinking about it (I'm looking at you, Thomas the Tank Engine). And then there are a few that you enjoy just as much as your kids. That cartoon right now is Phineas and Ferb.
Phineas and Ferb is about two brothers who come up with wildly imaginative ideas to pass their summer vacation. They build rollercoasters, set out to become a one hit wonder, play a game of volleyball with jet packs, fix a time machine, and so on. All the while, their pet platypus Perry is a secret agent waging a never-ending skirmish with the evil Dr. Doofenschmirtz and their sister Candace tries to bust them for their outlandish adventures. It is full of optimism, imagination, and is whip-smart funny in a way that adults appreciate. It delights me so much, you guys.
One of the trademarks of the adventures of Phineas and Ferb is that an adult will casually question whether these kids are of age to be doing whatever crazy thing they are doing. Like this exchange from the very fist episode "Rollercoaster":
Factory Manager: Aren't you a little young to be a roller coaster engineer?
Phineas: Yes. Yes I am.
Factory Manager: ...Well, I must say I'm very impressed. The forms all seem to be in order, although I've never seen them filled out in crayon before. So, if there's anything I can get you, anything at all... let me know.
That happens all the time. Aren't you a little young to be working in a museum? To man a fishing vessel? To be building a submarine? To be a landscape contractor? To be using titanium plating and an industrial arc welder? To save the universe? It's some variation of that question and when it's put to Phineas, he pleasantly says, "Yes. Yes I am" and continues about his business. He's a little young, but he does it.
That spirit makes me think about the quintessential youth group passage 1 Timothy 4:12: "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity." Our youth group is getting ready to prepare for our annual Youth Sunday and I can imagine someone coming up and asking one of our students, "Aren't you a little young to be leading in the church?" And I hope they would smile, pleasantly reply, "Yes. Yes I am" and then continue to go about their merry way leading.
It's not just that Phineas and Ferb do amazing things that they are a little young to do. They do it with a passion and an imagination that adults often cannot muster. It is a literal joy to behold the craziness they create. I think that is part of the same role that youth should serve in the church. They have a creativity, a spirit, and a perspective that is unique and vital as the church moves forward. They should be given opportunities to express that even if some in the congregation think they are a little young for it.
I hope that is an excitement I can express as we get ready for Youth Sunday. And while there are certain parameters I'm sure we have to follow, I hope that our students can concoct whatever the worship version is of a rollercoaster or jet pack volleyball; something only they could express about following God. So to my youth and any others: maybe you're a little young, but lead anyway with all the joy and imagination that you have in your heart.