Blog What So You Think You Can Dance Taught Me by Kelli Piccini Something you need to know about me is I’m a fan girl of two things: Nathan Fillion (I mean, have you seen Firefly?) and So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD). I’ve managed to win tickets for the live So You Think You Can Dance studio audience, attended seven tours, and have met most of the cast. I discovered that if you wait around after the show, with a group of 50-100 excited and impatient teenage girls and their wonderfully patient mothers, the cast will come out to greet the fans. Although the dancers are exhausted and ready to get back to their hotel, rest and be “off” for the evening, they always smile and autograph shirts or picture, often begrudgingly. This year was different. To my surprise, my husband, Timon, my friend, Tricia and I were the only brave souls to wait in the bitter Canadian cold. After a little while, Ray, the tour photographer came out and started chatting with us and invited us inside to meet the cast (where it was toasty warm)! We were over the moon with excitement. I was ready to get in and out quick until the unexpected happened. As we entered the meet and greet room, half the cast was at the entrance cheering for us as we came in. We were greeted with a wall of excited dancers that we watched on television for months. It was overwhelming, I didn’t know what to do, I froze! Megz, one of the dancers, broke the ice and started giving us hugs. Edson, one of the others grabbed my program and ensured every dancer would sign it before we left. This reception was drastically different than every tour before. We had a chance to chat, and take photos, and I was overcome by their hospitality, joy, authenticity and genuine friendliness. I never once got the feeling they didn’t want to be there or were ready for the fans who remained to be gone – and I was watching for it – I didn’t want to overstay our welcome! They invested in the individual before them, even if it was for just a few moments. Meeting them was a humbling experience, and we felt as if the support we gave them by watching and voting made a difference in their life. Working in youth ministry, I can’t help but be inspired by their example. So often it’s easy to use our tiredness and fatigue as an excuse to be disinterested or disengaged before, during and after a Life Night or retreat. This short, quirky little encounter, revealed one small, meaningful, and powerful way to improve the hospitality at Life Teen and Edge. Arriving early to set up can be long and tiring, especially if there are countless things you need to do before arriving at the church. Regardless of whatever fatigue you feel, teens will show up expecting and hoping for your very best. It can be a struggle to be energetic and fully present, but it’s important we show up and mentally and physically. It can be discouraging to a teen if they notice you putting in the minimum effort or recognize that you are distracted and disinterested. They will notice; they have noticed. We never want a teen to feel as though they are not welcome, or that we want them gone the second the night is over. If we aren’t fully present, will the teens know that we care? What will their image of the Church be? Will they trust us and allow us to lead them closer to Christ? During this most recent meet and greet with the season 12 cast ofSo You Think You Can Dance, I realized we missed meeting a couple of them. I’m not even upset if they were too exhausted to be fully present; ducking out was probably a good choice. Meeting someone who doesn’t have the energy to encounter you has the potential to ruin everything. If this ever happens to you (and hey, it’s Youth Ministry, so it’s inevitable!) talk to your Youth Minister, or another Core Member and let them know you need to remove yourself for five minutes to regroup. Or ask to be put on any behind the scene tasks required for the night. On the flip side, don’t be afraid to be over the top in your excitement when teens arrive. It may be uncomfortable and awkward at first, but this has the possibility to stay with them long after they attend. They will feel appreciated that their presence at church is not only welcome but celebrated!