I think we all know at this point that three months ago, when I looked ahead to 2016, I saw myself living in San Salvador fulfilling God’s call on my life as a full-time missionary. As it turns out, God did see me doing full-time mission work in San Salvador, but He was on a different timeline than I was. Instead, God’s plan had me on the mission field here in Columbus, Ohio for a little while before sending me south.
Well…okay. Bloom where you’re planted, right? So I dug down, secured my roots and searched for the Son (see what I did there??).
Teenagers can be a very challenging group of humans to work with, let alone love. But I completely believe that God breathed air into my lungs so that I would share His love with students and help them grow into disciples who make disciples. So if I am going to be temporarily planted in Columbus, I am going to serve and lead the people for which God created me.
Our Youth Pastor Amanda recently gave me the responsibility of Leadership Coordinator. For the past few weeks I have been working to find new leaders, begin to discover their strengths and connect them into our ministry. I have been developing and implementing a plan for onboarding the people who have shown interest in Youth Ministry at Rock City Church. This new position required me to be in the church office a few days a week, so not only did I get to take on a new and challenging position, but I have been able to closely watch Pastor Amanda work and learn from her leadership. She has shared with me some of her challenges as a Youth Pastor and allowed me to brainstorm new ideas for how to get students in the door of Rock City Youth (RCY).
Rock City Youth took a break for the month of December. This was a refreshing and much-needed break for our leaders, but it caused our numbers to drop when we returned at the start of 2016. A new tactic for growth presented itself to us just a week ago – the Rock City Youth Telethon! Last Tuesday night, a handful of RCY leaders and students gathered at the offices with a list of 600+ students who had either been to Youth at least once or marked themselves as a high school student on a Sunday Connect Card. Using this list, we divvied up the names and began calling students, informing them of what Rock City Youth is if they had never heard of us, inviting them to come to the next evening’s Youth Night and encouraging our regular students to bring a friend or seven.
Needlesstosay, this experience was productive but had a few oops! There were the students that were no longer in high school – “Oh, congrats on graduating! Got any younger siblings at home?” There were the people who were only in Columbus because they were visiting family – “Oh, okay! Well, were you visiting high school friends? What’s their number??” And there was this response that I got – “Veronica? There ain’t no Veronica here! This is a pizza place!” Lo siento, amigo!
Wednesday, Youth Night, came and when the numbers were in, between the Instagrams, Facebook posts, Snapchats (yes, we gave into the Snapchat phenomenon), invite cards and phone calls, we saw a 20-student increase from January to February! GOD IS GOOD!
Youth night, as always, was an amazing night of worship, friendships (new and old!) and a beautiful and hilarious message from Pastor Amanda. We are blessed to be able to use Rock City’s brand new Short North campus for our Youth Nights. This gives us access to a state of the art worship experience and space for our growing population!
I was excited to not only see new student faces, but about 10 new LEADER faces! Much of my connection work is done from behind a computer, so it was a blessing to meet the people attached to the emails! I am seeing Youth Night from a new perspective these days. I was once totally consumed by the student experience, but I now look at it from a new leader point of view, and it is just as amazing. I get to watch leaders fall in love with Youth ministry and get a glimpse of why we do what we do.
Why we do what we do – well, that’s a question for a whole other blog post 😉 But the long and the short of it is that we do Youth Ministry because we live in a fallen world and our culture follows the youth. Teenagers set the tempo for what is cool, what is worth our time and money, and what gets the most time on our social media airwaves. If we can lead students to Jesus, they can lead the world to his heart. It could also be argued that teenagers are the most needing of Jesus’ love, acceptance, and affirmation, but like I said, that’s a post for another day.
The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
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