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Student Ministry - November 2021

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Dear Church Family,

Last month was my five year anniversary serving as the Student Pastor of Oakhill Baptist Church. It has been a wonderful five years! Since being called to serve here, Kayla and I have been working to connect with families, equip parents, and join efforts with them to disciple their students in the gospel. As the Lord saw fit to be gracious to us and bless us, we also became parents of two wonderful little boys. We are even expecting a third child this coming April! I have also had the privilege and honor of baptising a number of students and walking with them in the beginning stages of their faith. I love getting to preach the gospel to the next generation and help them have a love for God and His word. Explaining the gospel to people and helping them see it in the Old Testament is my passion. I get to do what I love every week! And being a part of this church is such a joy to me and my family! 

Our youth group makes my job great too. We have some of the best students who really want to hear God’s word and grow in it. Sometimes they need to be reminded that that is what they want the most. But they always prove to be hungry for the Truth. We currently have a Student Leader group that is made up of 18 high school students who have a desire to serve the Student Ministry by reaching out to new, younger, or disengaged students. They also do much of the setup and teardown for Sunday and Wednesday nights. And the whole goal is to teach them how to take ownership and serve in their church. It is a real delight to see students being the church and making an impact in other people’s lives that they don’t even know they are making yet. And our adult leaders are a mix of parents, older adults, and younger adults. That is what it needs to be so students are connected to all spectrums of life and Christian experience! Our adult leaders are making huge impacts on these
students just by teaching their Life Groups and playing games with them. It is in these connections and the accurate teaching and example of God’s word that we drastically reduce the likelihood of the students walking away from the church later in life. I love being a part of that. 

So basically the whole point of my article this month is just to say thank you. Thank you for having me and my family be a part of this church family. Thank you for being such a great church and always supporting your pastors. Thank you for loving God’s word and not letting anything stand in the way of making the proclamation of the gospel the primary task. Thank you for loving my wife and kids well. Thank you for prioritizing the discipleship of the next generation. Thank you for loving the Lord and following His voice. And thank you for making my job awesome! 

Posted by Brian Van Doren with

Worship - November 2021

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One of the awesome things about fall is that right smack dab in the middle of November is DNOW. As part of DNOW I get the amazing privilege of putting together a band and leading worship for our students as they spend the weekend diving into God’s Word and growing
together. This is also a great time to introduce them to some new music, which sometimes is actually pretty old music. Last year, along with some other songs, we taught the students All the Way My Savior Leads MeI Stand Amazed in the Presence, and a modernized version of Be Thou My Vision. But we didn’t stop there. During the course of this school year the student band has been leading worship at their Sunday night student gatherings, and our young people are continuing to sing these songs, including a modernized version of The King of Love My Shepherd Is. The tempos are different, the accompaniment is different, and on a couple of them the melodies are even different. But the gospel truths, which have been sung by the church for generations, are the same. 

This year we have some more music picked out for them, and we are continuing to prioritize songs that are rich with biblical teachings and the power of the gospel. By God’s grace these songs will be a discipleship tool for these students, and this young generation will carry these songs with them as they are sent out as lights into a dark world. 

I am very excited about the music we have picked out for them this year, including one of my favorite hymns. We will be teaching them Rock of Ages, although it’s quite a bit different from the tune most of us think of. Honestly, you may not even recognize the song if it were not for those powerful words, but we are going to teach our students those wonderful words that have been sung for generations. And when I say these words have been sung for generations, I mean something like ten generations. The words were originally published 245 years ago in 1776, although the tune we all know and love would not be composed until about 55 years later. I did not realize it at first, but the tune the students will be learning was actually written about 170 years ago and has fairly commonly been used with Rock of Ages in Europe over the last century and a half. 

I don’t know how many times we sang Rock of Ages during the four years I was serving in western Kentucky, but like I said, it’s one of my favorite hymns. What I found peculiar, though, was that every time we sang it people would tell me that it’s a funeral hymn. Now don’t get me wrong, I think it is a wonderful song to sing at a funeral. It reminds us that our hope, comfort, and security is found only in Christ, and that even when we behold Him on His glorious judgment throne one day, still we will be hidden in him. However, these gospel saturated words are pertinent in all seasons of life, not just during times of bereavement. They help us to “seek the things that are above,” as Paul instructs us to do in Colossians 3, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God
(vv. 2-3).  This hymn helps us to turn our attention to the things above by reminding us Christ has given us His righteousness and has redeemed us that we may live in a manner worthy of the gospel (Philippians 1:27). 

I love Rock of Ages  because it helps us to sing the gospel, and we need the gospel every day. We don’t just need it at the beginning of our spiritual journey and at the end of this life, but every day in between, and then for all eternity. Verse 3 reminds us, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling… Foul, I to Thy fountain fly. Wash me, Savior, or I die!” No matter how long we have been saved, we are still wholly dependent on the righteousness of Christ, not anything good that we have done since the day we received Christ. The cross doesn’t just give us fresh start and a clean slate, leaving us to our own devices after that.  The blood of Christ is “of sin the double cure” because it both saves us from the wrath of God and it makes (and continues to make) us pure. Our goal is not to become less dependent on Christ, it is to glorify God through our dependence on Christ. This precious hymn with which we are arming our students reminds us that we never outgrow our need for Christ and we never outgrow the gospel!

Posted by Derek Niffenegger with

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