Some of the best days in my life are those while leading youth ministries. I loved the highs and lows and constant passion that the younger generation displays.
Open Life hired a youth pastor a few days ago and while getting him in the community and exposing him to the possibilities the dream comes quickly back to the surface of making Jesus known to every student. What would happen if every student in our community would experience the true message, life, hope, peace, and most importantly love of Jesus? What would be possible if students were sent to their campuses to learn, but to double as a missionary to their grade and campus? What if they saw differences as something beautiful and hurt as an opportunity for love to be more purely demonstrated?
Through Open Life and Jon Parker, our freshly hired student life pastor, we will take on some of these “what ifs” and see about making a huge impact in one of the most felt needs in our community. Now in the seat of the lead pastor of the church I get to be the biggest cheerleader for a person going out and equipping students to make the gospel known to their friends through being present with them, serving them, sharing love.
About the felt need. This fall myself and our Bonney Lake Campus Pastor helped lead a youth forum at Mountain View Middle School in Bonney Lake for the Sumner School District’s Community For Family Coalition. We would ask questions of groups of students to find out what they loved about their community, what problems they see, what solutions they could dream up and how they personally would take on those issues. We have been helping for years, but something rose to the surface this year for the first time that just floored me and we had to take immediate action on. Usually we get answers like:
- we need more stores
- we need more sidewalks
- we need more street lights
- we need something to do after school
- we need a bowling alley
- we need better fields
- we need a fun center
- we need food for the food banks
All of these are amazing, and sidewalks have been paved in response, and roads built and street lights installed, but this year one of the groups landed at the need for more youth groups. Now let me explain how this works even further. The students brainstorm through the top two issues that they collectively vote on by taking two dots and placing them next to problems on a flip board. So, they voted collectively that the community needs more youth groups. In a public school!
Students get that there is more life to be had, and that there is such good in what the students who are connected with a youth group have that they long for it. They long for the community and love that is found in youth groups. They want to do the justice work, they want to partner with ministries like Speed the Light and take on initiatives like The Human Right. Students want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
Jadon and myself exited that meeting and were determined to do something about it. We immediately were determined to find someone who would make this ministry to youth their focus and passion. We were going to meet the need of these middle school students and as well the high school students in our community and region, 5 school districts with more than 13 schools will be the territory for Jon. It’s big, but with our help and passion fueling his passion it will become a reality to bring the gospel to every student in our region. Equipping students to lead students into a growing relationship with Jesus.
Don’t think this personal passion will ever die for students, and excited to impart that to the next leaders and pour fuel on the fires of the gospel that begin to burn!