Over the next few weeks, we are going to be highlighting some student ministers and what makes their student ministries unique. We’ve asked some folks from our YouthMin.org community to share something that is unique to their ministry. It may be a culture, an event, a fundraiser, or even a lesson series. Check out this series of posts for some inspiration.
Hello, my name is Greg Jones and I am the student pastor at Southland Community Church in Greenwood, Indiana. Our community is well-known for being an affluent area. If you were to drive by the student parking lot at our local high school (Center Grove High School), you would see BMWs, Mercedes, brand new SUVs, etc. However, many people will overlook people with lower income status in our community. As you drive on two main roads, you will see people live a lower quality of life in mobile, older, and dilapidated homes.
Our student ministry has come to reflect this diversity. In addition, almost 50% of our students attend the local Christian school, 40% attend the local school, 5% are home schooled, and the other 5% come from public schools in surrounding communities. Just like many youth pastors, remaining unified is no easy task. For us, one story has driven our unity.
For the first four years, we sought to create ministry strategies around the affluent families and teenagers in our community…that is until a weekend camping trip back in 2013. A middle school student who was new to our church invited one of his friends to attend. He wore clothes that were either hand me downs or were purchased at a secondhand store. His actions resembled that of a puppy- as he would jump on backs of other students and leaders. In addition, he had a strong stutter. Come to find out, he never met his dad and simply had a rough home situation. No one was really quite sure how to respond to this new dynamic-his actions did not fit our neat and tidy mold. However, we knew one thing- we needed to embrace and love this new student.
After our camping trip, Nick came off and on. We learned that he enjoyed coming, but needed a ride. One of our adult leaders stepped up to the plate and picked him and a couple others students up EVERY SINGLE Sunday night. Adult leaders are awesome, aren’t they?
Fast forward to summer camp of 2016. Nick was excited to come, have fun, meet new people, but he was not necessarily expecting a life-changing experience. In the middle of camp, Jesus showed up in a way in Nick’s life that he could not deny. He repented of his sins and came to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Later in fall of 2016, Nick was baptized. His mom (who is not a Christian and lives in a sinful relationship) came to watch.
Now Nick’s heart has changed from being apathetic about Christ to wanting others to experience Christ in the same way he has. Currently, he is seeking to start an after-school ministry/initiative on his school campus that would reach out to other students who have similar life experiences. His passion is for high school students who have nothing to do or no place to go after school-most of these students are turning to drugs.
When Nick announced his goal, it was awesome to see various types of students rally around him and his goal-all from various backgrounds.
Nick has grown into one of our main students that we look to for leadership. He is engaged in every aspect of our ministry, seeks to invest in elementary and middle school students, he is the first one to speak up in a small group setting, and he listens intently to every message. Nick’s story is the epitome of what we are trying to do.
How does this unify our student ministry and even church? During adult leader meetings, we talk about how we can reach more “Nicks.” On Sunday morning, we have adults ask how Nick is doing. In conversations with my Senior Pastor, we talk about how can we develop more Nicks in our student ministry. When we have had a discouraging stretch in ministry, we think of Nick’s story. He reminds us why we do what we do.
Nick has unified our purpose and our passion for ministry.