THIS POST CONTAINS BOTH AFFILIATE AND SECOND PARTY SITE LINKS.
We saw this in how our weekly attendance continued to be not only consistent, but growing. Each week, another student would show up. Then we started seeing their friends. It was great! But it was more than just an increasing attendance. As the students reconnected with our leaders and each other, I began noticing that their commitment to be at our student ministry was more than just mom or dad dropping them off at the church. The students were truly excited to be there. But not just to be there, they were looking forward to participating in what we were doing.
I first noticed it after our Fall Retreat in October 2021. The retreat was awesome. It was the first retreat and "big" event since Covid-19 hit. We took just over 20 students and about 12 adult leaders and helpers. It was mixed group of middle and high school students, and I wondered how everyone would get along after the pandemic kept us apart for so long.
It didn't take long to get my answer. By the time we were heading to bed on Friday night, I could see that the students were beginning to reconnect and come together. By the time we left for home, we were one student ministry!
But it was on the first Tuesday night, that's when we meet as a student ministry, that I really saw it, or heard it. As we gathered for a time of worship and a message, we piled into a little room. There were about 30 of us, students and adults, and we started to sing. I paused for a few minutes while we were singing. I was moved by the lyrics and I took a moment to reflect on what I was singing, then I heard it. They were singing. Our students were singing, loudly. And as I looked around the room, I saw that they weren't just singing, they were worshipping!
That continued through the end of our 2021 calendar. The students were engaging, having fun, and beginning to grow. We rolled into the holidays, and as our custom, we slowed our student ministry to join in with what the larger church was doing during the Christmas season.
The new year, however, brought a delayed start to our season as a number of snow and ice storms impacted our area, causing ministry cancelations, including our Winter Retreat. We were scheduled to take over 30 students and 15 leaders and adults away for what we believed would have been an incredible weekend. But God had other plans.
The cancelations were frustrating, and I was concerned that we might give up some of the momentum we had built up. February came and we were finally able to start gathering again. It was a slower than expected start. But we programmed and promoted and reached out like crazy and slowly the students started returning.
In the weeks that have passed, our numbers are holding, even growing a little. But as with any student ministry, we know that students and parents juggle busy schedules, and so numbers sometime fluctuate. But more than just the numbers, we are seeing our students growing. That desire and want for more that I mentioned earlier, it's Jesus that they are want. They might not be able to always communicate that fact, but I recognize it. They want Jesus.
I see that as I watch how they worship; engaged and in the moment. Hands raised, eyes closed, hearts moving upward in praise. It's in the questions they're asking. It's their participation in our weekly Bible studies and discipleship groups. It's how they listen during our messages. It's in the conversations we're having outside of our student gatherings. It's in how they look forward to being together again. God is changing their lives, and it's amazing!
God is still changing lives. It's an amazing blessing to be one who gets to watch as God moves into someone's life and completely changes them for his purposes and glory.
On a side note, parents, I can't begin to tell you how important it is that you are encouraging your teens to be exploring their faith. As both a parent (remember we have 5 kids) and as a pastor (though I might not have the title) let me encourage you, pray for you, and offer whatever help I might be to you as you endeavor to train up your child/teenager. And if we can help you in any way, please, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. You can leave a comment below, and we'll reach out to you!
Thanks for taking the time to read The Higham Family Blog. Each week we try to share new content about something we are learning, something we love, or something to offer encouragement to the family. We love to hear from our readers, so please share your thought in the comment section of each post.