August 5, 2019
Chris' Blog: Why Students Matter
I'll never forget an eye-opening moment for me in my third year of being in full-time student ministry. Besides candles, I am a sauce connoisseur. I was looking at different sauces when a man sparked a conversation with me. After a few back and forth topics, as always, the subject of our professions made way into the conversation. "So, what is it that you do?", he said, "I am the Student Pastor at a church here in town", I responded. Without hesitation, he asked me if I aspire to become a "real" pastor one day.
I'm sure many Student Pastors can agree that this question sends frustration through their bones. I understand that this gentleman had no ill will in this matter to me. He was curious and genuine in his approach. With grace, I told him that I am in student ministry because I do love students. It's that simple. I love seeing parents being able to lead well inside their homes. I love seeing leaders empowered to walk in the trenches with students and their families. I love the patient process of seeing students come to know God fully and embrace the calling He has on their lives. I love everything about student ministry.
To be more concrete, I love being the Student Pastor at the Ridge. My wife, Kayla, and I are privileged to be here working with our 6th-12th-grade students. In my second year of leadership at the Ridge, I am eager to see all that God has in store for our student ministry. We believe that all students matter and belong. If you are reading this, and you have a student in 6th-12th grade, my prayer is that your student will join the movement of students who are hungry to find out who God created them to be. Allow me to share my top four reasons why I believe your student(s) should be or continue to be, a part of our ministry.
Truth #1 is that we exist to reach students with the hope of Jesus. Our desire is for every student in Columbus to hear about the unconditional love that Jesus offers. Teenagers are asking big questions like, “Who am I? Where do I belong? How does God fit in this crazy world? Why am I here?”, etc. We want to create a ministry that is safe for students to ask the tough questions and discover who they are.
Truth #2 is that we exist to encourage students to grow in their faith. Wouldn't it be amazing if we could wave a magic wand and then "POOF!", a mature follower of Christ? However, faith is a patient journey. We can't guarantee that your students will grow in their faith, but we will provide every opportunity that we can for that to happen. We offer safe settings like weekly teaching, small groups, and Bible studies that encourage students to grow in their relationship with Jesus.
Truth #3 is that we exist to challenge students to live on purpose through faith. Although we are a safe place for teens, we are also a place that will challenge your student. Again, students are asking, "Who am I?". We believe that your student(s) are created with a purpose, and we will help them find that. We want to help them discover the gifts and talents to live a life of worship and surrender to Jesus. We will offer practical opportunities for students to serve and live this out.
Truth #4 is that every student belongs here. We all need to know that we belong. We all have a desire to find the community of people that love, encourage, and challenge us to be a better person. We want that for your student. Students (and adults, I might add) are always on a journey to "fit in," which means that they change who they are depending on who they are around. That is exhausting. We want our students to be who they were created to be and to live motivated by identity and love.
In conclusion, I want to say thank you. Thank you for trusting our team to lead your students in the most formative time of their life. Thank you for striving to be the best version of you as a parent. Thank you for the privilege that it is to walk with your family through this phase. We know that this is, and will be, a difficult time as a parent. We are excited to partner with you in leading the teenagers we love so dearly. We are better together.
Whatever it takes,