Friday Thoughts: Student Ministry @ SGC
I've had the joy of being involved in leading student ministries for over two decades. Youth of all ages, of course, are very valuable and we as a church have the joy of telling them the "glorious deeds of the Lord..." (Psalm 78:4). This is why we have children's ministry at SGC. But this is also the main thrust behind our intention to have a student ministry (Jr. and Sr. High). Teenagers are in a very pivotal time of life and we must be diligent, as a church, to point them to Christ.
We hold to a number of convictions that inform our calling to this vital ministry.
We have convictions about the church. We believe that the Church is God's chosen means for the gospel to go forth and so student ministry is an integral part of the church (and not to be left for those outside of a local church to accomplish). We believe that the church is made up of different age groups with different needs and so students, while part of the church as a whole, can certainly be taught and cared for in a more narrow context - a context like student ministry.
We also have convictions about the family. We believe that children are a gift form God (Psa. 127:3) and that primary responsibility lies with parents (Deut. 6; Eph. 6:1-4). We also believe that as a church we are called to care for and help one another as none of us have the full extent of skills, giftedness, and knowledge to parent on our own (Pr. 3:7-8; Rom. 12:3-4). We believe that we are responsible to pass on the truths of God's word (including the gospel) to the next generation. We believe that when teenagers repent of their sins and trust in Christ they become part of the body of Christ, the family of God.
We also have convictions about the pastor. We believe that pastors are under-shepherds (1 Pet. 5:1-3; Acts 20:28) and are called to care for all the church, not only adults but children and teens as well. We believe that pastors are called to make disciples and equip the saints for ministry (Mt. 28:19; Eph. 4:11) primarily through the teaching/preaching of the word of God. We believe that pastors will have to give account for those who have been entrusted to him (including teenagers).
Lastly, we have convictions about the teenager. We believe that while scripture doesn't speak of "teenagers" per se, there is much said (Proverbs especially) about the discipling of young people. We also believe that teenagers can experience a genuine and vibrant faith! Yet, we also believe that teenagers are not mature (are any of us?) and need guidance and teaching to reach mature godly adulthood.
Based on these convictions (which is really our "theology of ministry") our philosophy of youth ministry is to prepare teens for a life of passionately following Christ, fruitful participation in the church, and eager evangelism of the world. This philosophy is informed by three commitments:
- Our first commitment is to build students into Christ. We will do all in our power to help them know Jesus Christ, love Him, and live for Him.
- Our second commitment is to build students into their parents. We strive for this by asking parents to attend main meetings, retreats, missions trips, and other events with their teens to promote interaction and fellowship between one another.
- Our third commitment is to build students into the church. Our hope and prayer is that these teens will be functioning and fruitful members of SGC by the time they graduate from high school.
It's our intention that during these teen years there will be an overlapping parental-pastoral responsibility for their teens. We desire to prepare teens and parents for this transition, that it might be as smooth and natural as possible, and that the resulting structure of pastoral authority and parental influence might be as healthy as can be.
Part of that transition also involves teens developing relationships with other godly, mature men and women at SGC who can be intentional to build the teens into a deeper relationship with God, with parents, and with the church.
We also desire this to be a ministry in which teens (and parents of teens) will be encouraged and excited to invite unsaved friends to. The gospel will be at the center of all we do and we prayerfully expect, by God's grace, to bear gospel fruit.
So, let me introduce you to 15:5
15:5 is the student ministry of SGC and includes students who have just completed their 6th grade of school (in June of any given year) and are entering 7th grade in the fall through seniors in high school who have just graduated. The name is based on this scripture verse:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 ESV)
The primary aim of 15:5 is to glorify God by making disciples who daily depend on Christ for their greatest joy and satisfaction, who abide in Him, and who make his fame known everywhere they go.
15:5 families will begin meeting this fall (9/2014) for worship, teaching, discussion groups, and fun! There will also be many other opportunities for study, serving, outreach, and social activities scheduled throughout the calendar.
Click below for information on our June event:
15:5 June Event
For any questions please contact me at the church office. I can't wait to begin the 15:5 Student Ministry and fully anticipate God to meet us in all we do! Please be praying for this ministry and all the families who will be involved. Apart from HIM we can do nothing - so please pray.