This year really flew by! I certainly don’t have the space to recap everything we did but I did want to share with you my own “Top 5 list of seeing Jesus at work in our youth”. For a full visual year in review, join our Facebook group called “St. Michael’s Student Ministry” to see our video on that wall. Or go to youtube and search 2011-2012 St Michael’s Youth Ministry Recap, which can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRmA-xFuEw4.
So here’s where I am most seeing Jesus at work in the lives of our youth over this past year:
5) Our series entitled, “Real Men, Lovely Women” – In our youth gathering times on Sunday, we did a 5 week series on what it means to really be a real man and a lovely women. With all the influences both consciously and subconsciously, today may be the hardest generation to know what it means biblically to be a godly man or a godly woman. We discussed not only positive character traits that are important for both sexes, but we looked specifically at some of the all important distinctions that God has created in men and women. We examined passages like Titus 2, Genesis 3, and Ephesians 5 for specifics on what marriage really is (A living, breathing covenant representing Christ and the Church), we looked at how to prepare for that now by cultivating the qualities God desires for husbands and wives, and we had a Q&A panel with real life testimonies of singles, married couples, and courting couples which provided a real-life look into men and women seeking to follow Jesus as best as they can in their relationships. Students were surprised, challenged, and encouraged to trust Jesus and prepare for a delightful, God-glorifying marriage that lasts!
4) 2011 Parent Child Mission to Dorchester – With the bus delivered, a team of St. Michael’s families with teenagers flew up to Dorchester for a mission trip to the church plant of Christ the King Dorchester. We had five teens and their parents join us for a week of service to our dear friends in Boston. Being in a very unfamiliar place with a very different culture was out of many of our students comfort zones, and not only so for our youth, but also their parents. With a flexible daily structure that centered around an informal, simple VBS in one of the local parks, we had to be creative and open about how God could use us in Dorchester. We not only were blessed by our time with CTK parishoners, but we were able to pray with and encourage them, and support their church by simply being helping hands to their ministry of summer VBS. Our youth and families were stretched thin, but to see them come together, humble themselves, and serve to the glory of Christ was definitely a top-5 moment for me this year!
3) Festival of Faith youth skit – No one could argue about whether or not the youth skit at the 2011 Festival of Faith was gospel-saturated. Aside from some timing failures, it was an incredibly powerful witness to the power of the gospel. I personally witnessed a team of teens put a lot of time and energy over the course of 6 weeks to perfecting the timing and motions of this very difficult skit. And it paid off beautifully. I heard from many adults how special that skit was and how relevant it was to so many youth and adult lives today. If you are interested, you can see another reenactment at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyheJ480LYA.
2) Confirmation/Lent Testimonies – After our first year of transition, I was blown away at the commitment and sacrifice, resulting in tremendous blessing for each of our confirmands in this year’s class. We ask a lot of our confirmands – attending spring classes, doing homework, having a retreat, and writing their own testimony to name a few – but we do so with good reason. Confirmation is not only a proclamation of owning one’s faith (which obviously is only entered into with the most reverent of ways and with sincere motives), but it is also our entrance in becoming a full member of the local church. We have found that the right understanding of what Confirmation is and what it is not has really blessed our students and families. It removes social norms and pressures of appearing “less holy” as other families, and it provides genuine significance to the truly converted teen. Most importantly it rightly protects the local church in being the visible representation of the gospel to the world. This year I saw teens sacrificing their time and energies to support St. Michael’s Church and to seriously contemplate their faith. At a time when it is easy to go with the culture, these students took a stand for what it means to be a follower of Christ and be a member of His bride in the local church. To me, the most encouraging moment is to hear the witness of these students themselves to what Jesus Christ has done in their lives, not just making them a better them, but calling them personally, convicting them deeply, and saving them by His all-sufficient grace.
1) High School Life Group – What has me most excited is a relatively new youth ministry. Modeling what we see at a church wide level, we began a High School Life Group meeting at Justin and Molly Hare’s house twice a month. Having deep convictions that students today want genuine relationship and real talk coupled with the fact that relational discipleship was Jesus’ main form of evangelism, we set out to see what this could look like. After a “slow start” with only 2-3 students coming, after only a matter of weeks we saw consistently 10-15 high schoolers coming to hang out over dinner, to catch up on life, to hear God’s word taught, and to apply it to their own lives. With strenuous schedules of teens today, we thought every two weeks was just the right schedule, and given that we feed our students (they have to eat sometime!), having the gathering from 7-9pm was perfectly situated for high school students. To see students engaging with the Word of God with at times literally having standing-room-only, this is what it is all about! Lives are being changed, hope is being granted, relationships are being restored at through the power of the gospel. I am so excited to see what Jesus has in store for our future!