Youth Ministry Forecast for 2015-16

Last year we tried something totally new with the goal of reaching more students for Christ and to have a more intentional path towards helping them grow in their faith. There have been many (MANY!) conversations about what worked, what didn’t work, and what we can learn from our experience. We’re moving forward with the same goal mentioned above, and we’re excited about putting what we’ve learned into action!

Here’s a snapshot of what you can expect:

Sunday Night Youth Group
Sunday night will be a time for junior high and high school students to connect with each other and be equipped to reach their friends for Christ. If last year was more of an “auditorium” atmosphere, this we’re renovating for a “living room” feel to youth group. We want to be welcoming, low-key, and highly relational as we build our friendships with each other and grow in our faith in Christ.

Thursday Night Small Groups
Small Groups of 4-8 students will be one of the backbones of discipleship for this year and will meet at EBC on Thursdays. They will be broken down by gender and grade-level (JH Guys, JH Girls, HS Guys, HS Girls). Small Groups would go through a devotional study together, equip students to form “faith habits” of Bible reading and prayer for one another while providing a safe place for students to share their question, doubts and struggles together.

Note: September will be registration month and small groups will kick off in October. This way, if we need more High School groups we will have time to recruit another small group leader.

Student Leadership
One of our goals for this year is to provide more space for students to serve and lead. We are actively working towards creating more places throughout EBC’s ministry where students can plug in, so stay tuned for more of those opportunities! High School Students who are “Faithful Servants” will have the opportunity to join the Youth Leadership Team (which meets monthly) as Student Leaders. Since Christian leadership is all about servanthood, it is an expectation that students who want to join the YLT would be faithful in their participation in worship and in youth group while also being committed to serving in the church at some capacity (media team, food pantry, worship team, youth ministry, Awana, etc.). These students leaders will be the ones leading games, giving announcements, and facilitating prayer huddles at Youth Group while also having the opportunity to help shape the youth group calendar and giving input on what topics are taught in youth group.

Pawley’s Island: Wednesday

It’s been a full week… and it’s only Wednesday! Personally, I came into this trip with high expectations, and I’m thrilled to say they’ve been exceeded already. Students are serving and students are leading. They’re pushing themselves out of their comfort zones and taking risks without us adults needing to tell them to do so. Parents, every single one of you has many reasons to be proud of your teen!

IMG_5102Lessons From James
Over this week we have been studying the book of James, which was written to the Jewish believers who were scattered throughout the Roman world. Since they were foreigners living outside of Israel, they faced many challenges and trials. Instead of giving into discouragement, James encourages them to give thanks, “…because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3-4, NIV). The trials we endure make us more like Christ, and that’s something to be thankful for!

Because of this, we should not fear challenges or failure or risks. Instead, we live with an attitude of faith, seeking to become more and more like Jesus. We refuse to show prejudice or discrimination (James 2:1-13), and instead we look for ways to add good works to our faith. Faith is the root, good works are the fruit… because faith without action isn’t really faith at all, it’s just a bunch of good ideas.

I have been incredibly blessed by seeing our students taking hold of this biblical pattern of life and putting it into action throughout each day. The devotional provided by LeaderTreks has used multiple Bible Study methods which students will be able to use when they get back home. Again, I can’t say enough about how effectively the LeaderTreks staff has grounded our ministry in Scripture and the Gospel… I’m blown away.

We’re Getting A Lot Done… But There’s Still More To D0!
So far this week, we have assembled a bunk bed, painted 1 1/2 bunk beds, learned how to repair holes in drywall and put in the needed patches, sanded and painted a large storage shelf, and we’ve begun work on repairing the decks outside the family’s trailer. We’ve also completed two days of our VBS program at Teach My People, which has been completely prepared and led by our students (adults are serving in support roles, according to roles assigned by students).

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Our to-do list for tomorrow looks like this:

  1. Replace stairs to front porch
  2. Finish balusters on back porch #1
  3. Replace balusters on back porch #2
  4. Complete securing bed slats on bunk bed #1
  5. Complete painting bunk bed #2
  6. Start securing bed slats on bunk bed #2
  7. Move and secure storage shelf (secured so it doesn’t tip, as it will be used as a divider in the living room to create a more separate bedroom area for the kids)
  8. Emphasize the Bible Memory verses during VBS and review them in each station.
  9. Create a new skit to emphasize our week’s theme during the program introduction.
  10. Create “Verses To-Go” cards with a key verse and the references for the three memory verses for the kids to take home.

I think we’ll be busy!

Leadership Lessons
There have been many leadership lessons this week. That shouldn’t be a surprise when you’re working with a ministry named LeaderTreks… but I am constantly impressed with how prepared our students were for the leadership opportunities. That’s not my doing, so please don’t misunderstand this… God has been at work in these students leading up to this week, He has been stretching them and growing them throughout this week, and I am confident He will continue to use them when we return home!

One of my struggles this week has simply been the challenge of regularly stepping back. As a leader, I’m so used to filling the leadership needs myself that I need to be intentional about stepping back in order to create space for students to step up. On the work site we split into multiple teams, with different students assigned as the team leader each day who oversees the project and assigns roles to team members. Students are also responsible for cooking, cleaning, and loading up materials required for each day.

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Every Christian is a Leader
Leadership looks different for different types of people. Some students take the bull by the horns and are comfortable stepping in front of others and talking. Others prefer leading in the background through simple quiet words of encouragement, inspiring others to make the wise and godly decision. Leadership has many forms, but it always involves some sort of risk, because your leadership can be rejected… and when that happens it feels like you are being rejected. But leadership is worth the risk, because every Christian is called to live in such a way that we are making disciples. Wherever you are, whomever is around you – may your faith root you in God’s Word while you bear fruit through good works.

Pawley’s Island: Monday

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Even though our team left EBC on Saturday morning for this summer’s missions trip, this is really “day one.” We arrived last night in Pawley’s Island, SC around 6:00.

Keys, Anyone?
The exciting part of yesterday came at a rest stop in N. Carolina when we discovered the keys securely locked in one of our vehicles. Thankfully the AAA locksmith came in only thirty minutes and we were back in the road much quicker than expected. We made the best use of our time by playing some team games together and breaking into our VBS mini-teams to discuss and pray about the VBS program we’re putting on this week.

Team Time: “Let’s Go Have Some Successful Failures!”
During our Team Time last night our site leader, Tarynn, introduced the idea of “Successful Failures.” This is the idea that failures provide great opportunities to learn and grow. Often times, our fear of failure keeps us from attempting new things. Instead, if we embrace the idea of successful failures, we won’t let fear of failure keep us from trying something new… we’ll do our best while learning from what didn’t go as expected!

Invitation: Read James With Us!
This week’s devotional book was written by LeaderTreks in order to help students dig into God’s Word while processing their ministry during the week. We are reading through the book of James this week… would you join us in studying and praying through James this week.

IMG_5040Today’s Work Project
This week we will be working at a woman’s house who is working towards adopting two of her nephews and her niece. Although her two children are in college and in high school, she’s taking in these three young family members in order to keep them out of foster care. The Department of Child Services has instructed her that she needs to improve the sleeping conditions for the kids and make a number of safety improvements to her trailer before September, or else she will not be granted the adoption. These are reasonable improvements, but she lacks the resources to make them… which is where Teach My People and LeaderTreks teams like ours come in!

Last week’s team was able to build some furniture which our team will complete, providing bunk beds for the kids and a large shelving unit which will add some much-needed separation to convert the living room into another bedroom. Our team will be finishing the construction of furniture, patching holes in walls, and securing the railings on the outside decks. These projects will allow Ms. G. to be approved for the adoption and keep her family together. I’m so excited that our team has this opportunity to help Ms. G. take care of her family like this!

Teach My People
Teach My People is a wonderful Christian organization who provides a Christ-centered after-school program for children in Pawley’s Island. Their mission statement reads, “To teach children and youth in the Waccamaw school district to overcome academic, economic and social challenges and impact families through the delivery of Christ centered programs and services that promote spiritual, educational, and emotional growth.” I’m really amazed by the impact they are making in their community. Where families have lived in poverty for generations, TMP provides services for children from first grade through high school graduation… this year’s upcoming graduating class has 11 people who are hoping to attend college! I cannot wait to learn more about this amazing organization and get to know the kids when VBS starts up tomorrow.

How To Pray For Us

  1. Teachability: We want to learn everything God has in store for us to learn this week. Through our successes and our failures, there is always something to learn about who God is, who we are, and who God wants us to become.
  2. Leadership: Leadership = Influence. We all want to have influence on the people around us. Pray that each of us would grow in our understanding of how God wired each of us to influence others for Christ.
  3. Safety: On the roads, working on site, running a VBS… safety is a good thing.
  4. Unity: We are all growing as leaders, but we also are growing as team members… that means we need each other!