Recently the following email came to me totally unsolicited. As I read it I realized that this story captures clearly what Reach Out does.
From Terry to Jeff
Jeff Cody, Engineering Technician by Vocation and Lay Student Pastor by Calling in Wichita, Kansas, wrote:
About six years ago our denomination held a local youth pastor's conference. Terry McIlvain led the conference. He serves as one of Reach Out's Eagle Leaders. During that training I caught the vision of Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry. Immediately I began to put the principles into practice at my church. The student ministry started to grow. Parents caught the vision and jumped on board to become adult volunteers. I discipled them in our Leadership Team, and they in turn discipled teenagers. Before I left that church, the student ministry had grown so much that it exceeded the adult Sunday morning worship attendance!
My wife, Kerri, and I helped plant a church in the town next to ours. We began to implement Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry. Within two years the student ministry had grown to over 30 students, 5 college students volunteering as leaders, 9 lay volunteers, and 2 very active prayer partners. Prayer was the engine. You inpired us to make prayer the engine of our ministry in one of your talks. Since we met in a high school, we formed prayer teams that weekly prayed over the lockers at school. Overall our church attendance averaged in the 60's. Of those only 6 were NOT involved in the student ministry!
Five years later, a multi-site church in the area invited me to become one of their c
ampus pastors. Though interested, I still had a passion for student ministry--and they already had a youth pastor. Yet we sensed the Lord leading us to that church as volunteers, but not to take the multi-site position.
Interestingly, one month after we moved the youth pastor left to pursue his college degree. The senior pastor, knowing my background in student ministry, asked me to become the interim youth pastor until they could find someone. I accepted and immediately I began to put Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry into practice. For the last two months I have discipled 8 adult leaders and 2 student leaders. Last night one of the adult leaders texted me, saying that she and her husband are experiencing refreshing and nurturing like never before. When I read that text, immediately my mind went back over my years in youth ministry, and I realized...
Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry has turned my ministry on its head!
All of the growth and life change have come from the hands of Christ. But also, Christ has used Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry to reshape my thoughts, actions and ministry. I just wanted to email you and encourage you to keep it up. Barry, thank you for your love for students, and the Christ-like example you continue to be in my life.
From Jeff Back to Terry
Terry McIlvain has exhibited faithfulness in the 35+ years I have known him. All of that time he has worked alongside me equipping "faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Timothy 2:2). Since 1979 Terry has trained youth leaders--like Jeff Cody--to implement Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry. He became one of Reach Out's first Eagle Leaders.
How does a person effectively invest in others over such a wide geographical expanse as Kansas and Nebraska? Terry would travel to meet with a group of youth leaders in their city. He would meet with them individually to help them evaluate their ministries, and then meet with them as a group to train them in Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry. When he completed nine months of training, he still continued to meet with them three times per year for encouragement and challenge. Though grueling and not glamorous, the fruit produced in one 7 year period: 20 thoroughly equipped and well-mentored youth leaders implementing Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry and equipping other youth leaders to do the same.
In a culture of "the next big thing" and "quick fixes", how refreshing to equip and then engage with faithful leaders like Jeff and Terry who have stayed engaged in disciple-making youth ministry over the "long haul".
God gives fruitfulness to the faithful!
And thank you for your faithfulness to us!
You keep on allowing us to invest in younger generation leaders!