2015 December 31st quarterly report…
Events and programing offered to the 62 students on our roster and their friends this past quarter.
Fun Events: Corn Maze-36 students ; Thanksgiving dinner-32 students; Christmas Party-35 students
Regular Youth group meetings: 23, 16*, 17*, 30*, 16, 34*, 12, 17, 30 students (*HS only nights)
Service Events: Caroling -7 students; Parents Night Out-15 students
Bible Study: 11 students
Sunday School: 6-10 (HS); 3-8 (MS) [Some of the 62 active students do not attend BG]
“The reason that many church-attending young adults stopped going to church upon graduating from high school? Their faith just wasn’t personally meaningful to them. They did not have a first-hand faith. The church had not become a valued and valuable expression in their life—one that impacts how they live and how they relate and how they grow…we need to prepare young adults for the spiritual challenges that will come and the faith questions they will face. Firsthand faith leads to life change and life-long commitment.” Quoted from http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/december/real-reasons-young-adults-drop-out-of-church.html
We have all heard staggering statistics concerning the vast number of students who fall away from their faith after high school graduation. Based upon my own personal experience I believe it is because training such as occurs in youth group, bible study and Sunday school is generally seen as optional. Students tend to prioritize meetings which seem fun and light, while less entertaining, more spiritually engaging meetings can be missed. Without these spiritually engaging opportunities it is more difficult for students to be challenged, stretched, and encouraged by adults and peers to get the answers they need to make the transition to having a firsthand faith where church becomes a valued and valuable expression in their lives.
As a parent of 4 teens, I am constantly trying to help them find balance. My teens gravitate towards activities that are healthy, develop character, and are all around great for them. However, the activities they choose and want to spend their time at are not necessarily faith building, nor necessarily oriented to servanthood. In our “selfie” culture I would like them to be challenged to be outward thinking: serving and loving on others. It is true that they find groups and studies outside of the youth programing at BG that meet these needs, but more often than not it is their commitment to youth group, bible study or Sunday school that offers this and as parents we help to make this a priority.
Our current youth programing offers meetings ranging from simply fun events to serious and deep studies of theology. In this New Year, I want to challenge each of you to understand the youth programing offered at BG and evaluate balance in your own students’ lives. I would love to see each student participating in the parts of the program he/she personally needs most to transition into having a first-hand faith, not just the ones he/she wants to attend.
2015 September 30th quarterly report….
About five years ago standing in front of the church as a new member I declared my favorite attribute of God, His sense of humor. Today writing this quarterly report, I am reminded of this attribute. The following paragraph is directly quoted from my last report:
“As my time on staff is drawing to a close, I am becoming increasingly more excited to see what God has in store for the future of both youth ministry and my own life. I have learned an immense amount through this experience specifically in the areas of friendship, leadership, grace, and humility. I am certain God will continue to faithfully provide for my growth in these next few years.”
Through many known circumstances and a summer of agonizing prayer and decisions I am still here faithfully serving the 76 middle school and high school students at BGBC and with exceeding joy! God is super funny, isn’t He?
Despite the “in limbo” staffing decisions this past quarter, the youth ministry, through its devoted leaders and zealous kids did not stop gathering and growing in His grace.
On July 4th we set out in two vans with playlists, pillows and guitars and landed in Philadelphia to collect and team build with Zac Adams. After a long, late night of Philly firework fun on the Ben Franklin Parkway, we all hugged Mrs. Adams good-bye and headed off to the inner-city of Baltimore. Our week of serving was full of adventure, Legretto, some fried chicken, a stealth walk in the park complete with an almost knife fight, an amazing host and long lasting friendship with Colleen Smith and a diamond in the ruff treasure find…HIP HOPE 2009. If you really want to try to experience driving through Baltimore in a shady white van full of teen agers & crazy leaders, you can go here for just a taste ….https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=i+call+him+god .
The rest of the summer was filled with fun drop ins, picnics a lake baptism and a concert at the Park.
This fall our youth group kicked off this school year with two kickoffs, one student only “campout” that became a “campin” and a family potluck night. Both were joyous times of fellowship; which just so happens to be our theme for this year. Using a series called Experiencing Christ Together, our youth will learn about the importance of fellowship with believers. So far, this has been tying in well with the Believe Curriculum that our youth Sunday school classes are studying.
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. 2015-2016 BGYG Key Verse.
2015 June Annual Report
Philippians 4:13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Late last summer, just prior to coming on staff to lead the Youth Ministry, I attended a Leadership Summit with several individuals from BG. Over the course of one short weekend I learned many skills that equipped me for the coming year. Of particular significance to me personally, was a very simple phrase: gap filler. I have discovered that this perfectly sums up the essence of my ministry involvement which has ensued during the 20 or so years I have been a follower of Jesus. God has, time and time again, put a weight on my heart to take on positions in which I have little to no experience in order to fill a gap or need in His community. Youth ministry is my most recent example of such a position. By merely trusting Him to use my gifts of organization, administration, and efficiency, I was enabled to fill a gap and help fulfil His desire for the church body of Bethel Grove. Thus, His work is accomplished by no merit or specific skill of my own.
As my time on staff is drawing to a close, I am becoming increasingly more excited to see what God has in store for the future of both youth ministry and my own life. I have learned an immense amount through this experience specifically in the areas of friendship, leadership, grace, and humility. I am certain God will continue to faithfully provide for my growth in these next few years.
I must thank the great many people who allowed themselves to be used by God not only to provide support but also to keep the youth group flourishing. Though we did not have to cut any traditional events or programs, we managed to add a few with God’s grace.
Here are a few of my highlights…
Ministry groups: creating ministry groups enabled the students to lead and view youth group in a new light. The students worked hard to serve our community, but more importantly were able to practice using their unique gifts that God has graced them with.
The Famine: The Africa, Toronto and Boston mission trips really put the homeless and hungry on my heart. Being able to raise funds for the local Rescue Mission and to serve the people who are too often seen as the least in our society was really special for me. We raised just about $4000 to help support meal programs.
Shut in: I had never stayed up all night so this was a first for me. Time and time again, I have learned that teens transform after 10:30 at night and really open up and let down their guard. I was unsure after 2:00 am what this would look like, but those wee hours yielded some deep spiritual conversations, questions, prayers and friendship building times.
Volunteer staff: God has specially gifted each of these volunteers and it was a privilege to work with them, to see His love through them, and to grow in Him together.
Please continue to pray for the youth group as we get ready to depart for Baltimore. This is our first trip without Eric and we will need nothing short of a miracle to make it run smoothly in his absence. In addition, please pray for the transition the youth group will undergo as we move to a new youth pastor.
2015 March 31st quarterly report…….
Bethel Grove Youth Ministry Update
We started this year with a theme: Walk by Faith, Not by Sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)
In most areas of my life, the long, mundane winter has a way of diluting the excitement and enthusiasm that floods me each September as a new school year starts. Youth ministry seems to be no exception. In the midst of stomach bugs, weather too cold to sled, dark evenings and a cramped youth room, our theme seemed to become nothing more than a memory of an overzealous beginning.
Amazingly enough, however, God is faithful even when we lose sight. It was in our great weakness that God became most apparent. His work has brought us far further than we could have ever gone by our own strength. Where we as leaders lost enthusiasm, God himself shone through and revealed his deep love for the youth.
Though we did not have many events planned during the months of single digit frigidity, a great deal occurred during the time we spent in community as a group each Sunday evening. The ministry groups flourished during this time and the students began to step up and serve, not only one another, but also the church and the greater community.
The Hands and Feet ministry has made their vision to serve the homeless and hungry here in Ithaca a reality. On April 25th 50 teens and 10 adults, all of whom are participating in the famine event and fasting, will be serving breakfast and lunch at the Rescue Mission shelter to the hungry of Ithaca.
The Music Ministry team has shifted gears and has become far more student led. Worship has become a time where student musicians and singers usher their peers into the presence of the Lord. They have organized a concert for the first night of the famine in hopes to raise awareness of homelessness among the youth of Tompkins County. We have invited several youth groups to join us during this time and are excited to see what God will do.
Our Encouragement Team has helped alter the atmosphere of youth group itself by sending letters to teens who do not attend often and actively welcoming newcomers to the group.
The Snack Ministry team, a group of young men and one lady, has faithfully provided the youth with snack each week and has helped to maintain the pristine qualities of the ministry center kitchen.
The multi-media group has been working on a surprise project that we are all excited to see.
The Dapper Committee has been actively organizing and decorating the youth room so that it may be a warmer, more welcoming environment than before.
Lastly, our events team has led the games time at youth group and also helped arrange a sledding event which, due to the cold, turned into a bowling event.
In short, our vision is unfolding in spite of the fact that we are no longer actively pursuing it. The youth have grown to embody Christ as they serve one another and the community at large. God has done incredible things and I feel so blessed to be able to count myself a part of His plan for the students
2014 December 31st quarterly report……
BG Youth Ministry Update
Walk By Faith, Not by Sight… 2 Corinthians 5:7
As I consider this past quarter in the youth ministry, all that fills my mind is awe. There are so many metrics that could be used to “measure” the success of the youth minsitry– or any ministry for that matter (attendance, positive feedback, events completed, etc.). None of these, however, seem to truly encompass all the many parts of a multifaceted ministry such as this. Youth ministry is a seed planting ministry– a ministry that introduces and cultivates truth and hope in the lives of young people who are only just starting to truly grow into who they are as individuals. Sometimes this growth is obvious, occuring visibly and right before our eyes, but oftentimes the impact is not fully realized or comprehended until the lives of the leaders and students have progressed considerably.
Bearing that in mind, I would like to briefly address three of the many things that we have accomplished this past quarter as a result of the effort put forth by the student ministry teams and their respective leaders while simultaneously recognizing that the spiritual growth of students is far more valuable than the success of these events.
October 31st marked our first ever community outreach– The Trunk or Treat. I was impressed by the level of church involvement as well as the creativity expressed through the trunks and costumes of the participants. The students found great excitement in the followup event wherein the $300 raised by selling various concessions at the Trunk or Treat was used to purchase items for Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes. The idea that the youth helped organize an event that not only engaged the church body but also led to a second event which empowered them to reach out to those in need was greatly encouraging to the leadership of this ministry.
In December, the students made 30 care packages filled with warm winter items and other neccessities for the local Rescue mission to distribute to their clientele. The items used to fill these packages were purchased by the students and brought to the youth group Christmas party. The gratitude expressed by the rescue mission volunteers upon receiving these packages was truly humbling.
Finally, the babysitting InReach through which our students served the parents of the BG community was very well received. The leadership was encouraged by the fact that all the different ministry teams, each with its unique focus, helped to plan and run this event.
Over the course of these next few months, please pray for each of the students involved in this ministry as well as endurance on the part of the leadership. Running a youth group is, in the words of Eric Hause, “like running a mini church.” In all honesty, none of us feel fully qualified to take on such a large endeavor– an endeavor wherein the very lives of the students are impacted. We covet your prayers, your participation, and most importantly, your grace as we continue to seek God’s direction in this ministry.
2014 Sept 30th quarterly report….
Bethel Grove Youth Ministry Update
Walk By Faith, Not by Sight…2 Corinthians 5:7
My first action as the Bethel Grove Youth Coordinator was to attend the Leadership Summit meeting, a gathering of 11+ people from the church community. I was intrigued by many things presented at this meeting. One concept stood out to me in particular. This speaker presented the idea that we are all called to step into and fill a “gap” in the community given to us by God. This church is my community and God has placed a “gap” before my feet. In spite of my apprehension (and possibly even a little bit of fear) I will, to the best of my ability, fill this “gap” with great joy and excitement.
Thankfully, I have 19 others helping me fill this need in the BG community. Each member of the staff is gifted in a unique way and contributes greatly to the group as a whole. In fact, during our second meeting we all took the spiritual gifts test and, to my relief and satisfaction, the nineteen of us together have, with the exception of prophesy, all of the spiritual gifts (see 1 Corinthians 12). This is merely one of the many reasons that leading this volunteer staff team is by far the easiest and most enjoyable thing I do.
As the kids start to meet regularly they will begin to notice and experience some changes in both the atmosphere and character of youth group meetings. Some of these changes will improve the quality and depth of our group while others will merely help the group adapt to the absence of Eric’s experience and wisdom. We are excited, as one of these changes, to incorporate ministry teams designed to help the youth minister to themselves, the church community and the local community. We are determined, in spite of Eric’s absence, to press on and continue to encourage the youth.
In other news: Our 2014 Youth Group kick off went smoothly without a hitch! We are very excited about our new popcorn machine, and for the awesome videos we have of Nick, Santosh and Nathan being dunked into the “ice-tea” water. If you were not able to come, there are several photos on our BG Facebook page. Check them out! (like us at BG Youth Ministry)
Upcoming events include a community outreach “Trunk or Treat” event that will be held right here in the BG parking lot. Keep your eye out for flyers and invitations to hand out candy from the trunk of your very own car. We also will have a Youth Worship night on November 23rd! This will be open to the church community. Hope to see you all involved!