Who remembers their middle school years? I’m going to assume most of us have blocked out those memories because of awkward moments and questionable fashion choices. You may call me crazy, but middle school ministry is my passion! God has planted in me, as someone who leads both students and young adults, this desire to create a safe space for young people to wrestle their questions of faith and become rooted followers of Jesus Christ.
Let’s be honest; this teenager season of life is sticky, and we need each other. No one has more potential to influence a student than a parent, but a parent is not the only influence a student needs. Our students need parents who are pointing them toward Jesus and adults from the community of believers who are confirming that message, too. Our Student Ministry doesn’t just offer support; we offer your students a place to belong, a place to be their genuine selves.
As someone who is considered in the “Generation Z” category, I see a lot of friends who are struggling with their faith. My peers are wrestling with life’s deepest questions and sometimes choose to ignore Jesus. It’s not that my generation is a crooked generation, but we simply have seen huge cracks in the church model. We’ve seen the place, which was created to protect people, in some cases used to oppress people. We also want to see people set free to live into their God-given gifts, but sometimes we see the hurt instead of the healing. My generation is struggling to find a place to belong at church, and I’m confident so are the teenagers in your lives.
Now, how do we start to fix this? The real and unique need of this generation is simple: a safe place to ask questions, belong and be seen. If we “the church” aren’t on the frontlines answering these hard questions with God’s truth, this generation is forced to seek truths in the wrong places. In our Student Ministry, we try and tackle these questions early, creating a safe space for students to ask their questions and in turn, being honest with our answers. We’re actually coming off a series in our Youth Group (YG) called “I Have Questions,” where we answered life’s hardest questions with the truths of the gospel. We are intentional about creating a safe space, and we believe this is the reason we’re seen positive momentum in Student Ministry.
We don’t just stop there; we also take time to challenge our students inwardly. The statistics are true, and more than 50% of young adults drop their faith after graduating high school. Our mission is to help students mature in their relationship with Jesus so when they leave our ministry, they have the tools to continue their faith journey. One of our tools is an experience called FALL RETREAT, which is coming up on October 22-24. Fall Retreat is a special three-day experience where we teach our students about the freedom found in Christ. The first three sessions will be about embracing our freedom from sin, measuring up and stress. Our last session will be about empowering our students to find their purpose and sending them out into the world. Middle schoolers AND high schoolers are invited to join this experience. Cost is $59 and includes food, t-shirt and take-home devotional. You can register for Fall Retreat here.
It’s our mission to make all students feel like they have a place to belong. I challenge you to be invitational in your community - not just with the students in your neighborhood, but the kids, young adults and adults as well. We all have a place to belong with God’s people.