I have met a lot of students who think they have rejected God. They think they know who Jesus is and what the church is all about and have turned from what they see as an old-fashioned thought police department that really doesn’t have anything to do with their everyday life. The problem is, they’ve only met a sort of mini-god that doesn’t resemble the Creator very much at all. The overarching aim of our student ministry is to “reveal God to students”.
The name of our ministry “Wind & Water Student Ministries” has been chosen to reflect that desire. Our part of the country is shaped geologically by wind and water. The Bluffs that dominate our landscape reveal the activities of these two elements. The farms and ranches that surround us would dry up and die without access to life-giving water. In the same way that our landscape reveals the presence and activity of wind and water, we want our ministry to reveal God and His action in the world today.
We are adopting a two pronged approach to revealing God to students that incorporates two key phrases: “Bringing Students to Life” and “Taking Life to Students”. As we are defining our process of discipleship, everything ties into these two thoughts. “Bringing Students to Life” is first about helping students meet Jesus – the real Jesus! Our youth ministry team’s most basic function here, then, is to pray for students and design encounters between them and Jesus.
As they encounter Him and get to know who He really is, our hope and prayer is that they will be moved from death into life. Very literally, we want to see students resuscitated by the Spirit of God – a move from merely ‘dying’ for 70 years or so to really living the full life Jesus came to give us. Critical to sustaining this life is connecting to the Vine and being grafted into the Body of Christ. We don’t want students to simply be a part of our “youth group” – we want them to connect deeply with Christ and His Church.
As they make this connection, we want our students to begin taking Life to other students. We want them to learn how to really love the kid at the next locker the way that God does. We want them to take water to thirsty people – to care for the least of these in our world today. When God is allowed to love people through us, this leads our students to live in a context where His mission is at the forefront. We want our students to choose to live a life of service to that mission both within the church and outside the church. As they serve, we want them to see their service as participation in God’s life-giving mission to the world. They complete the circle by becoming agents of God’s bringing people to life.
We’re still developing this approach to student ministry, and using the water cycle to visualize this process of discipling. The students will move through 4 environments in our discipleship process: Ocean, Vapor, Rain, River.
(I’ll explain these a little more over the next couple weeks or so – but until then, what are your thoughts? Leave a comment and share them…)