“Hello. My name is Greg. I’ve been a youth group survivor for 23 years”.
That’s how I imagine some remember their church youth group experience growing up. Not me. My high school youth group became such a core part of my existence that its effects are still strong in my life. Pretty apropos that it was called “Hard Core”. Even more, the leader, Chuck, took the helm, guided this young sailor through the rocky shoals that could have wrecked me early on. I now reflect on how I started sailing this sea of life with a great captain to guide me.
This is really for all youth leaders that wonder. “What does it matter if I show up tonight to lead these kids in worship and other youth group mayhem? It’s not like they care.” Trust me. It matters. We care. Show up…please.
Hard Core Effects on the Life of Greg:
I met my wife there! Hard Core had coffee houses and I had just joined a band with my friends Eric and Pete. I didn’t know anyone else at the time, but I played at one and met Karyn. If memory serves, it was the classic “I saw her in the crowd dancing to our songs…it was love at first site”. Not many people know that when I was 16 I prayed that I would meet my wife early so I wouldn’t have to do the “dating” thing. I remember deep talks about relationships, intimacy, self-control, all of which were instrumental in “waiting” for the wedding.
Hardcore gave me confidence that I could actually play music and rock for Jesus.
I remember sitting with Chuck in my dad’s ‘84 Toyota Camry and listening to “The Rock” (click to listen now) that I recorded in my little studio to a cassette. He was very supportive. Now music is a core part of my life. I’ve toured the world playing music, performed throughout Rochester, composed many songs and full soundtracks, built a recording studio serving startup bands and players, and am currently serving in my church, leading a Sunday band and the student band.
I finally rid myself of my obsession with Prince. Since 8th grade I bought everything having to do with Prince and it shaped my thoughts and actions. Hard Core gave me the guts to literally burn it during a cold Hard Core night. I still remember the pain when Karyn tore the Purple Rain album sleeve in ½, but now I think of how liberated I was after that. It let Christian music in so I could be more open to Jesus. It was a HUGE thing and helped me in my journey.
I’ve got 4 kids now!!! Not that having kids was the focus of Hard Core but adult male role-models on how to treat women was. Chuck treated his wife well in front of all of us students and his little one that put some seeds of wisdom in my brain.
I learned the value of quiet time. We went to some farm with a really old piano. It was winter. We were told to walk by ourselves and reflect. It was almost like we were in training, never just on a “youth trip”. Trips like that were always great fun, but a sense of urgency or importance or something made it clear we shouldn’t fool around with this Jesus thing…that we should get with it and never look back.
During Hard Core I experienced times of worship so intense! If I would have known how rare that would be through my life, I would have savored it even more. We learned that students shouldn’t be toyed with when it comes to worship and Jesus. We were so ON FIRE! I still remember feeling it was like the early church. We all went to school together, played after school together, went to church together, small group together, we went out on weekends together…and we were all believers so it was one of the safest environments to grow up and mature in. We weren’t toyed with. We were told one night, “he comes like a thief in the night, to steal, kill, and destroy” and if we didn’t help each other and become strong believers, we’d be in big trouble. This was all an experience I’ll never forget.
I Remember being given a “Sailing” painting by Chuck before they moved. I still have it. It reminds me of the impact he had on me and the impact I can have on students now. The following movie is the song Chuck wrote inspired by that painting and other photos from Hard Core.