I wrote this up and used it a couple of years ago as an announcement in our main worship service in the Fall:
What is your gift?
And how are you using it in service for God?
My name is Pastor Jeremy Mavis and I work with children, youth and their families. And I’m going to share a bit about what we’re doing this year in hwcYouth.
I grew up in church. My parents brought me to church every single Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night. It was part of the culture of our family. It’s what we did.
So I was one of those kids that was in Sunday school class every single week. I heard almost every single Bible story. But do you know what? I only remember a handful of those “lessons” that were carefully and intentionally planned by my teachers each week. This might be discouraging to hear if you are a teacher and you work tirelessly each and every week to teach your students.
Only a handful stand out to me.
But do you know what REALLY stands out to me when I look back on my Christian education at church? The people. My teachers. It was the relationships those teachers and leaders fostered with me that were not only memorable, but what actually shaped me. It was the Gospel of Jesus Christ, lived out in these teachers, that impacted me the most. Sure the lessons were helpful. I’m sure my knowledge of the Bible was furthered because of those carefully planned and intentionally executed lessons. But it was the “lessons” lived out in the life of the teacher that made the difference.
Kids are smart, right? Smarter than we sometimes give them credit for. They know if you really believe what you are telling them. You see, I don’t remember all of my teachers in Sunday school at church, or the teachers at school for that matter. I only remember those teachers whose lives looked like the lessons they taught from Scripture. So you could say, not only was my knowledge of the Bible furthered, but my relationship with God was strengthened by my teacher’s example to me. I remember Mrs. Hodges in Kindergarten, Wendell Hodges in 3rd grade, Junior Garcia in 4th, Jim Hunt in Middle School, Mike Mobly in High School, Mark Jalovick, John McMurray, Steve Patty, and Byron Kehler in College. These people marked and shaped my life because they lived and displayed the Gospel to me.
So, with this realization that we need Gospel-centered and humble people, not just good, Gospel-centered curriculum (although we do have that), we are looking for people who want to step into our existing programs with children/youth and disciple them. Although our programs will still look pretty much the same as they have for the past decade or so, our core emphasis is shifting to building the relationship between adult and student, alongside of the good curriculum and lessons we use. We call them small group leaders.
We are going to train these small group leaders like crazy this coming year because we believe this is so important and so vital to passing on and transferring faith to our children and youth. So don’t feel like you can’t do it. You can. If you have even a mustard seed (meaning tiny bit) of faith, and you are a follower of Jesus, and you like kids and teenagers, we need you to consider joining us in discipling these kids.
In Main Street on Sunday morning, we have most of our small group leaders already lined up for the school year, but we would like parents to step into their child’s class for one month out of the year. Again, we believe it is the power of relationships that are Gospel-centered that helps spiritually form children. So we want the children in Main Street to see, feel and experience a huge influx of small group leaders and parents who love the Lord. We want these children to grow up thinking this is the normal way to live!
So we are asking parents who have kids in our Main Street program to sign up for one month during the next nine months. You will have to rearrange your Sunday morning routine a little during that month. You’ll have to come to the early (8:20am) or the late (11:00am) service with your kids, and then hang out in the class with your children at 9:40am.
In Followers, our after school program on every other Monday (2 times a month), we bus about 100 Kindergarten through grade 5 students. That’s a lot of kids! But they love coming to Followers! Again, we believe so strongly in the small group mentality that we need 12 small group leaders (possibly more as the year goes on) one for each grade and gender. So we need a person for Kindergarten Boys, and another for Kindergarten Girls, and so on. A small group leader doesn’t have to plan for anything. They will just lead their assigned students from station to station and be called upon to build relationships, have discussions about what they are learning, all for the purpose of connecting real life with God’s Word.
Sounds great, right?! So we need 12 people who want to give about 2 hours twice a month on Mondays for the school year at Followers.
Middle School Youth and High School Youth is the same. We are looking for small group leaders who want to engage and relate with these adolescents and emerging adults. We need adults who want to shape students and be shaped themselves by the grace of God. For both msy and hsy, we need about 12 small group leaders for each. We have many students who are hungry to learn about God and how to walk in His ways, but we are often very short of adults who can help accomplish this.
So I am asking you, on behalf of teenagers who don’t know how to ask adults this kind of question: Will you lead a small group of middle school and high school students and teach them with your life what it means to know God and walk in His ways? It would be every Wednesday night from 7-9pm for the whole school year. And we plan to work together, pastor and all the small group leaders, in order to learn together what it really means to disciple and lead these teenagers.
Bible Quizzing needs adults who want to engage with students memorizing the Word of God during the school year.
Mentoring Future Families on Tuesday nights needs people to watch the Mom’s children so the Mom’s can discuss how to lead their families as single Mom’s.
The Nursery needs volunteers who love holding babies and spending time with toddlers as they play, sing songs, read Bible stories, and make fun things on Sunday mornings.
We made room in your bulletin on the tear-off section for you to mark what you are interested in and someone will contact you.
There is no shortage of opportunities to exercise your gifts in the body of Christ. And I’m asking you as an advocate for children, would you consider joining forces with us as we lead, disciple and train the up and coming generation of Christ followers.