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Student Ministry - August 2019

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Dear Church Family,

The Summer is already drawing to an end, and as I look back, I can’t believe how much time I’ve been able to spend with our students. We’ve been on mission, gone to camp and went white water rafting, went exploring in the City Museum in St. Louis, gone canoeing, had pool parties, and will have finished our Middle School Mission Week by the time you read this. I have thoroughly enjoyed all the time spent and ministry done with our students this Summer! The Fall semester is well primed with what the Lord has been doing in the lives of our students.

One thing that I have enjoyed the most this year is that for several of our events, we have had parents involved and investing in the lives of our students. From retreat earlier this year to camp, canoeing, and pool parties this summer, parents tend to make student events much more beneficial. There’s just something about having a parent or two (or several) to bring their perspectives to the lives of the students. The biggest way parental involvement helps students is that it allows the students to see parents as normal people too. Parents were teenagers once. They grew up, made mistakes, and had to learn from them. But many students rarely see that. During student events, parents become more than just a mom or dad, though. They become an Adult Leader! As an Adult Leader, the students get to see these parents in a different light. Now they are just normal people living out the same gospel and journey of life as the kids. The students start to identify with the older generation as parents serve the students and open up about their walk with Christ. This is something we should celebrate and seek to duplicate. Here’s why:

The number one reason why students leave the church when they graduate is because they lack relationships with adults in the church. I don’t have to cite this information, because it is in every student ministry book, survey, and website out there. If this is true, then we need parents to be invested in the lives of the students of our church. This does not mean just investing in their own students… If every parent intentionally and prayerfully invested the gospel in the lives of their children, then that would be spectacular! But even more is called upon us. We are also called to intentionally and prayerfully invest the gospel into the lives of our children’s friends and acquaintances. That simply means that we are supposed to care about the salvation and growth of the other students in our church as well as our own. We all agree with this, but practically this means giving time and resources to serve and build relationships with students and include them into our lives. This looks like helping out in the Children’s Ministry and Student Ministry, serving and investing weekly. It can easily look like helping out with a Student Event! It needs to look like letting your kids invite their unsaved friends over for dinner and then to church on a Wednesday night. For a start, it might simply look like saying hello to some students on a Sunday morning and getting to know their names. Whatever it may look like in your context, the question is, are you   intentionally and prayerfully investing the gospel in the younger generation? If the answer is no, but you want that to change, come talk to me about Student Ministry or Pastor Bryan Gotcher about Children’s Ministry… we can help you get started!

Sincerely,
Brian Van Doren

 

Posted by Brian Van Doren with

Student Ministry July 2019

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Dear Church Family,

Parents, what do you think is the number one most important influence in your child’s life? Would you say social media? What about video games? Maybe some would say their child’s friends? Steve Wright and Chris Graves site several sources in their book Apparent Privilege to show that for the vast majority of students, the number one most important influence in their lives are their parents. Not their peers, not their phones, not their games… their parents. Does that information come as a shock to you? It did to me when I first learned of it. I honestly couldn’t believe that about 70% of kids are actually more shaped by their parents than they are by the world around them. But then I asked the question: what kind of shaping is going on here?

I’m willing to wager that many of you did not know this reality either. But that’s kind of the point. Most parents don’t realize just how important their role in the life of their child really is. That being the case, many parents miss opportunities to lean into the positive influence they have in the spiritual formation of their student. Think about it like trying to play a video game but not knowing which button on the controller does what. You might know what you want to happen, you just don’t realize you have the ability to make it happen. If we forget the potential power that our role as parents has in the development of our children, then all the goals we have for their lives will be nothing more than dreams. If you are a parent, then God gave you that influence for a reason, and He wants you to use it… don’t forget about the influence you can have on your teenager’s spiritual development.

That said, what are your goals for your child? Seriously… what are they? Are they that your student would know Jesus and grow up into His maturity so they can enjoy Him and glorify Him forever? (Ephesians 4:14-16) There are certainly more hopes and dreams we have for our children. But are there any goals you have that may interfere with what the     primary goal ought to be? Every parent must honestly answer, yes. At least sometimes. Maybe all the time.

What do we do if our goals for our children are wrong and ungodly? We do the hardest thing for any parent to do… we let go. Let go of ungodly, unhelpful goals. They aren’t goals so much as speedbumps to all the exciting things God wants to do our students’ lives. When we let go of ungodly goals and remember the real and powerful influence God has given us over their lives, we will begin to see the Lord work in them in a renewed and impressive way. Don’t be like parents of the world who want to let go of their influence and hold on to their idolized dreams. God has called us to something greater. With Him guiding us daily, we can do it. 

 

Posted by Brian Van Doren with

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