By Lonney Moore
Redeemer’s High School Ministry looked like many other high school ministries in the United States. Large group gathering each week with main teaching by adults and students involved in worship band, dramas, media team and set up and take down….Small groups during the week lead by a relational adult in homes and some on campus. Each season, or quarter, a big inviting event and multiple opportunities to serve in the church and the community.
After seven years of being strategic about small groups, large group and events. A few questions came to the surface: Are the graduating seniors getting connected? Are we making disciples? Are students just taking or are they living out their own faith?
As we looked around we did see students understand God’s Word, invite friends and having an authentic relationship with Jesus. A few high school seniors got connected BUT we also saw a majority that were caught in the vortex of “Routine Christianity” or “Apathetic towards Jesus”.
The tension and complexity of students not getting connected to faith after they graduate is probably a pretty accurate picture of most American youth ministries. If you have been in student ministry for any length of time you know what I’m talking about.
My team and I, in many brainstorming sessions asked the question:
What fuels/drives this generation of students?
We began to realize that if a student is a part of “something” and that “something” be bigger than themselves they are dedicated, motivated, and willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
We experimented with giving students direct roles in serving and leading different areas of church ministry (children’s ministry, middle school ministry and worship team) and local/global mission projects. Students gladly took the roles and surrounded themselves with non-believing and believing friends to make the project a success. The consistent feedback was: “when can we do this again?” “I get so much more out serving than just sitting and listening!” “I really feel like I am a part of something!”
One of our students said, “My passion is to serve wherever I am needed most”. We made note of that conversation and from there the word PASSION and it’s definitions resonated in our souls!
We defined passion as: An inborn fondness that sparks action.
So… here’s what we are trying… we abandoned the Large group, Small group Model and went strictly to “Passion Groups.” These groups are birthed from students who want to encounter God and live out His passion. So now our reading of God’s word is not to stay just within our heads in memorization, but rather it is quickly turned into an area of service.
Our new groups are categorized into 3 Passions:
1. A Global Passion
2. A Local Passion
3. A Church Passion.
Here are some of the things students are learning from their passion groups:
- Students are discovering ways, based on God’s word, to bring movement to the Global issues that matter to God: poverty and injustice.
- Students are coming together and developing their own ideas on how to make a difference in their Local community to serve those in their own backyards and create a constant presence of Love thy neighbor.
- Students are living out their passion of what the Church is to represent, by being the ones leading the efforts of volunteering all around our campus in various ministries.
These aren’t just special events any longer… this is what we are about. It’s no wonder that the recent media campaign is targeted at our students. Give them something to care about, but also believe that they can do something about it. They’ve got the best ideas around. If we want to truly have the “End in Mind” when we do ministry with High School students, let’s stand behind them and tell them to Go For It! We are now their support system for whatever God is whispering to them.
Lonney Moore is youth pastor at Redeemer’s Church in the rural community of Reedley California. The home of the fruits and nuts, He “fits” right in with his wife Paula, daughter Haley(8) and son Micah(5). He loves all things red and is never without a strong cup of coffee in his hand and is always ready to share life with any human being!