|Stanton EFC Youth in Spring of 2017|
|Stanton EFC Youth in Fall 2018 (they're growing up!)|
This week I thought I'd share an update on our church's youth ministry. We began the youth group year soon after the start of the school year in August. We have now already completed our fourth week. The school year is moving quickly, as it usually does. In youth group, since we meet on Wednesday nights, and we spend the first part of our time together outside playing a game, we always notice how quickly the time changes as darkness settles in on us earlier and earlier each week. It is a sign to me that we don't have much time with these kids. They will only be "youth" for a very brief period of their lives and then they are off into the world. We as leaders do not look upon these students as little boys and girls, but as future men and women. In our youth ministry, we are seeking to prepare them to follow Christ within a challenging world. We are seeking to make disciples of Christ and equip these students to be disciple-makers themselves.
For the past two years we worked our way through the New City Catechism, going at a pace of one question and answer per week. The New City Catechism is an excellent, evangelical catechism, teaching the basics of the Christian Faith within a classic, question and answer format. I want every student that comes through our church to receive a strong foundation of what the Gospel is, what the foundational Christian beliefs are and how to recognize teaching that doesn't match up with what the Bible says. The New City Catechism is a very helpful resource to guide our students in learning and growing in their understanding of the Christian Faith. I encourage you to check out the New City Catechism for yourself or your family.
Since we completed the New City Catechism at the end of last school year we are doing something a little different this year. We are focusing on the theme of "Living as a Christian." We will be looking at different topics each week on what it means or what we need to know, to live as a Biblical Christian. The first main heading we are focused on is The Gospel. So far we have discussed these questions, "Why do I need to be saved?" "Am I a Christian?" and "What is the Gospel?" Next week we will discuss and answer the question, "What are the essentials of discipleship?" Or another way to put the same question is, "How do I grow as a Christian?"
The other main headings we will learn about this year will be, The Bible, Cultural Challenges, Loving God and Loving our Neighbor, Honoring Authority, Honoring God in Relationships, and Learning about Other Religions.
During our youth group meetings we always begin with a game in order to get the nervous jitters worked out and hopefully burn off a little energy. The game time is also a good opportunity for the students to get to know one another better and even work together as a team. We then have a short time of fellowship where the students serve each other by sharing snacks they have brought for the group to eat, (often snacks that they have made themselves). We then have a conversation focused on a personal question I have the students answer about themselves. Last night's question was, "If you could have any job for one day, what would you do?" It was fun to hear how each student answered, and of course they always want to hear how the leaders would answer the question as well.
We then transition into our lesson time which is always spent with our Bibles open. Then after the lesson we break up into small groups; right now we have enough for two small groups of girls and one group of guys. This gives the students a chance to share or talk about things that they would not be comfortable with sharing in front of the whole group. It is also an opportunity for personal discipleship with the leaders as the leaders encourage them to apply the lesson and read their Bibles during the week. We provide all of our students, once they have entered the seventh grade with their own Study Bibles which are excellent Bibles to help them get into the habit of reading God's Word each day as well as bringing their Bibles to church and following along with the sermon.
When Greta and I arrived in 2015 and began helping to lead the youth group we had eight students who regularly came. That number raised to 14 last year and now it is up to 16 this year. Our students are growing up here in our church right before our eyes, and we also have one from outside of our congregation who is a part of the group. Please be praying for these students. Currently we have 7th up to 11th graders that make up the 16 students. We have students who are home schooled, as well as students from Stanton, Leigh, Wisner-Pilger and Norfolk Public schools. Pray also for myself, my wife Greta and Amber Doughty as we seek to disciple these students.