Middle Schoolers excited about church!?

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My name is Adam and this is my first ever real blog post! I am the Middle School pastor at Mission Hills Church. (www.missionhills.org) My wife and I moved to CO in September to join the Mission Hills Staff. God has called us to the awesome adventure of making Him known in the lives of young people in the foothills of Colorado! Transformed Lives Period is the heartbeat of Mission Hills and we have seen firsthand how God is at work changing the lives of students through this church. A few months back, we had a huge outreach event called “The Big Halloween Party.” Hundreds of students came for a super fun night and there were so many who put their faith in Christ for the first time at that event!!!

One of the students who began a relationship with God that night was Parker. He was invited by two of his friends, Tyler and Koby who are in the 6th grade and totally passionate about reaching their friends with the gospel. While we have so many students who are passionate about God and about seeing their friends know Him, we also have families that are over-scheduled, over-stressed, and over-committed. We found that many of our leaders were in similar situations and we began to ask the question, is there something we should stop doing so something more important can work better? Up until the end of 2014, Quest was gathering on Saturday and Wednesday nights and we realized that our ultimate goal was not to have a multitude of programs but to make disciples who make disciples. After much prayer and conversation, we decided to cancel our Saturday night program and focus all our efforts on Wednesday nights.

Wait… we cancelled a program that was reaching 75 kids a week?  Why would we do that???

There are over 17,000 Middle School students within 15 minutes of Mission Hills Church! The problem is that statistically speaking; over 15,000 of them do not have an authentic relationship with Christ!

Barna Group research tells us that 80 to 90 percent of people coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ in the United States do so between the ages of 4 and 14.

Middle School is the end of the greatest window of opportunity in life to reach someone for Christ, and we have 15,000+ of them in our back yard who NEED Jesus!

This is a problem, and we feel compelled to do something about it. In order to reach these students and see their lives transformed, we have to focus strategically on what we would consider our “primary win.” Transformed lives period. This means we need a powerful and effective middle school ministry that can bring the message of the hope of Jesus to middle school kids, give them a place to belong, and allow the Holy Spirit to transform their lives!

In this season of change, we are working to create an irresistible environment. Irresistible because of the LOVE of Christ dwelling in his people! Irresistible because it is fun, friendly, family, and students are authentically passionate for Jesus. It will be relevant to church and unchurched kids with excellent programming and creative, interactive biblical teaching. Every week numerous new students will show up because of the irresistible presence of God.

We are prioritizing a strategic small groups structure that ensures students will be connected in small groups. In these groups, they are finding a “family” where they belong no matter what their background or story. They are being connected with adults who love God and who are investing in their lives as well as partnering with their parents to encourage authentic faith!

We think that this is a win in a number of ways:

  1. This makes Mission Hills BIG 4 a priority!  We know that a student’s faith is more likely to “stick” if they are involved in the overall church, attending services and serving, rather than just going to the youth ministry. We want students at Quest to attend a service, serve within the church, join a group (Quest/life groups), and share their story.
  2. It is a win for families’ schedules.  Instead of running students around to multiple different student ministry nights, we focus all our efforts on one night. At this time, Wednesday was the most natural choice for students and leaders.
  3. Every student we are engaged with is automatically plugged into a small group. Each student that walks through our doors is connected to an adult that cares about them and a community of their peers that is on a journey of following Jesus with them—This was not happening on Saturday nights.
  4. It works better for our volunteer leadership team and gives us more time to invest in leadership.  Our greatest asset to building faith in the next generation is the people in our church who know God. We need to prioritize investing time and effort into recruiting, training, equipping, encouraging, and inspiring volunteers to do the work of the ministry!
  5. Less but better. We want to create something GREAT, not 2 things that are average.

This has proved to be a great move. Our Wednesday night environment is getting better and better. Students are feeling more and more comfortable inviting unchurched friends, and those friends are coming and being welcomed into the Quest family! Since January 1st we have seen more then 30 students give their lives to Christ! Quest students are growing in their relationship with God through small groups and we are seeing them live out their faith at school, home and in the community. God is moving and Quest is growing. If you know anyone who is in Middle school(and lives in South Denver), encourage them to do whatever it takes to be a part of Quest!

Parker, who gave his life to Christ at our Halloween party has plugged into Quest on Wednesdays. This means he is connected to a small group where he has a leader who is investing in his life and he is connecting with other middle school students. Because he is plugged into the small group, he has people who are encouraging him in his faith, he is building friendships, he has a leader who is there to walk with him and help him as he walks through the beginning stages of following Christ! Parker is growing and learning what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Koby and Tyler have continued to invite friends as well and those friends are coming back week after week!

It is so cool to be a part of a place where kids are excited not only to come to church, but they are excited to bring friends who are unchurched!! Those students are hearing the gospel and responding to it! Then they are getting plugged in with leaders who are teaching them what it means to follow Jesus!

God is moving and though we are meeting less than we used to, less is proving to be more as we see God transforming the lives of students!

Here’s where YOU come in!

This growth is exciting, but it also means that we need more adults who will invest in the lives of our students! Just last Wednesday I had seventeen 6th grade boys in my “small group.” This is WAY too many! That many students should make up 3 small groups.

Just Koby and Tyler have brought enough friends to make a whole other small group—the problem is that we do not have enough adult leaders to multiply our groups. This means kids are not cared for as well as we want them to be.

But you can help!

Do you know someone who might want to invest in the lives of middle school students? If you love God, He could use you in this role to make a huge difference in the lives of students at a time where they really need someone to be in their corner!

I am confident the Tyler and Koby and a bunch of other students like them are going to continue to reach out to their friends and as they do it, it is our job as a church to care for and disciple those students! This means we need a whole bunch of adults who want to make a difference in kids’ lives to step up and join our team!

Maybe you could be one of those people?

Maybe you know someone who would be a great middle school small group leader? Or Maybe you would simply pray Matthew 9:36-38 with us.

36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

The harvest is plentiful—there are 15,000 Middle school students within 15 min of Mission Hills who do not know Jesus! But the workers are few… I am praying that God would send us workers…will you pray with me?

Will you consider joining the team to be a mentor and a hero to a middle school student?

Interested in joining the team or getting more info?

Shoot me an email: adorband@missionhills.org

 

 

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