June 2, 2021

Chris' Blog: Best Summer Ever

Can I be honest about last summer? In a lot of ways, it was hard. Parades, family get-togethers, weddings, and concerts were all canceled or modified. The 4th of July was different. Travel was restricted. Beaches and campgrounds were closed. Summer just wasn’t the same. 
And neither was how we did student ministry. Students were craving more from their relationships, mental health was a struggle, we lacked face-to-face contact. We were excited and grateful to connect with our students via Zoom, but they still needed something more in that moment. As students would say, “Last summer, the vibes were off. No cap!” I think we all understand that to some degree. But we have good news. 
Summer for Ridge Students is back in full force this year. Our theme this year is “Summer Vibes” because we have a lot to make up for from the vibes that were lacking last summer. This summer is going to be the best yet. Our team has been working hard over the last few months to provide a summer to remember. We want to keep our summer lineup as much of a surprise for your students as we can, but we want to go ahead and share that information with you (spoiler alert!). Below, you’ll see some of what you (and your students) can expect this summer, as well as some next steps you can take.
1. Encourage your students to attend the “Summer Vibes” kickoff party on June 6th from 6-8 pm. The kickoff is for all incoming 7th-12th grade students (so everyone who just finished 6th grade, all the way up through those who just graduated). The night will be full of games, food, prizes, and our big summer calendar reveal.

2. We’ve got awesome “Summer Vibes” t-shirts for the summer. All the details to purchase these are on our parent pages and our Middle School/High School Instagram pages.

3. We’re excited to have Caroline McQueen (a former Ridge student) joining our student ministry for the summer as our intern. She will be with us for a total of 10 weeks. She will help leverage relational outreach and opportunities with middle and high school girls within our ministry and community. We are expecting great things from her presence and efforts this summer.

4. Our parent newsletter is going to be the one-stop-shop for all this, as well as everything else coming up, so be sure to subscribe to the parent emails and like our Facebook pages for middle school parents and high school parents. (Just try not to leak any info to your students!) 
I get chills just thinking about what this summer will mean to all of us here at Ridge Students. Relationships will be stronger, and lives are going to be changed. This is going to be the best summer ever. It’s time to reclaim the Summer Vibes and make the summer of '21 one to remember. See you then!
Whatever It Takes, 
Chris Bell

You can pre-order the “Summer Vibes” t-shirt for only $20! Shirts will be available for pick up at the kickoff. Get yours here

Chris Bell I was born in West Lafayette, Indiana, and lived there until I was in 4th grade. Around that time, my mom got a call that my grandpa had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Shortly after, we moved to Tennessee so we could be closer to him. I was angry and upset about the move. At the time, I didn’t know Jesus, so I didn’t know what to do with my anger. My mom suggested I go to a summer camp in the Smoky Mountains. During that week of camp was the first time I heard the gospel message; by the end of the week, I surrendered my life to Jesus. I went back to school and went through the motions, but didn’t have a church to help support me in my newly found faith. This was a common occurrence during my middle school years…my faith seemed to only be on fire during summer camp. Around my 6th grade year, my grandpa passed away. By that time, I had built a solid relationship with him, so I was angry that the Lord would move us to only have us watch him die. I was mad at Jesus, but I looked forward to going back to camp. By 8th grade, I went into severe suicidal depression. Christmas Eve of my 8th-grade year was one of the darkest moments of my life. I remember standing in the middle of the kitchen thinking about taking my life, and I heard Jesus tell me to hold on…that He had something for me. After three months of Jesus pulling me from that dark pit of despair, I went back to camp. This time, I heard God clearly telling me to go into full-time ministry. Over the next 4-5 years, I went from a camper to a camp counselor/director. My senior year of high school, I decided to go into student ministry because I wanted to be the student pastor that I never had. I wanted to be there for students during those difficult moments, like I went through. I wanted them to have someone to turn to when they were looking for answers to the hard questions. I attended Johnson University in Knoxville, TN, where I met my wife, Kayla. In between dating her, playing basketball, and working at Cracker Barrel with the sweet ladies in the store, I was able to get a Bachelor of Science degree in Youth Ministry/Preaching with a minor in Bible.  What I Do As the Student Pastor, most of my time is spent developing leaders who are passionate about coming alongside our students and encouraging them in their faith. I also spend a lot of my time prepping messages and thinking of creative ways to effectively equip parents to disciple well in their homes. If I’m not in the office, I’m probably out spending time with students and their friends. I believe it’s important to meet them where they are, and that is sometimes on the sidelines of a basketball game. Life Before The Ridge Before coming to The Ridge, I served as Pastor to Students for two years in Cincinnati. We then felt called to move to South Florida where I served as Student Pastor at Treasure Coast Community Church. Once we had our baby girl, Madison, we knew that it was time to come home to the great state of corn, soybeans, and many barns. Words I Live By 2 Timothy 1:7Every day I am on a journey to understand that the same power that rose Jesus from the dead is the same power that empowers me to live out my purpose and to live a life of legacy. When I’m Not at Work, I… In the summer, you can find me sitting on the side of a creek or river pondering my next candle purchase. In the fall, you can find me in a recliner watching football. During any other season, an ideal day would be spending time with Kayla and Madison at a state park. Something That May Surprise You In 4th grade, I got in trouble with the law because I went into people’s mailboxes and took the magazines out of them because I liked looking at the pictures.