Why I’m Excited About Student Ministry
Today I’d like to talk to you about our new Student Ministry, which we’ve named The Sequels, and why I’m so excited to welcome Eddie Walker to our staff. Before we talk about what’s happening today, a little historical background is in order.
When we first started Church Requel back in 2009, my experience was as a pastor in a large church environment. So many of the ways we arranged our children’s ministry was using a large church model. I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but God has not called to be a large church. He has called us to be a unique small church. I love it! Now that we’re here and we know what we are, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
However, figuring out how to attract and teach the ways of Jesus to a younger audience has often been a struggle for us. One thing I’ve learned is this:
#1. Jesus Does Not Want Church Requel To Be Like ANY OTHER CHURCH.
This has been a lesson I’ve learned many times over. If we compare ourselves to any other ministry, or if we’re reading a book the purports to explain the right way to do ministry, I think we are only going to be frustrated. God doesn’t need duplicates. God wants to work through our uniqueness. What we must be more than anything else is SET APART for God to be able to use us. Here is how Peter describes the church:
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9
So our primary effort should be to be set apart to be used by God in the unique way He has created us… SO THAT we may proclaim His excellencies! That means we look around and ask, who are we? What do we do or have that is unique or different? Where has God placed us? What does God want to do with us?
One of the hardest things to face up to is the truth that God does not call all churches to do the same thing. There have been times when student ministry is just not the thing God is asking from Church Requel. There have been times, I’m convinced, when God has let us know that He has student ministry covered in a different way by a different church. So what has changed?
#2 - Jesus Wants Us To Follow His TIMING & PLANS.
Sometimes the hardest thing to learn as a pastor is that no matter how positive I am, no matter how hard I work to make my plans work out, I’m just hitting a brick wall if it’s not God’s plans and God’s timing. I have learned to embrace these encouraging words from Jeremiah 29:
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13
I’ve come to learn that even though Jesus loves the children and calls us to make it possible to come to him, that He also has his own plans and his own timing for this. His timing is not the same thing as our timing. The key to our prayers for student ministry - and some of you (like me) have been praying for this for years now - is NOT that God immediately makes student ministry a reality. No! What does this verse say about God’s plans for us? For welfare and not for evil? For a future and a hope? What is the end game? What is the objective? That we seek God. That we find God. That we seek God with all our heart!
We (definitely includes me) often confuse the means and the ends. The end of all ministry, the end of all that God has provided for us, is a relationship with God. A relationship that we enjoy. A relationship that brings us fulfillment. A closeness with God so that we might know His will and His plans and His timing.
Over the last year and a half - through these Covid months - God wanted us to know Him and be close to Him. I don’t know about you, but I feel that we as a church have done exactly that! In the difficult and challenging times - sometimes when we couldn’t even physically gather - God gave us the means to be close to one another even when we couldn’t be close to one another.
Along the way He gave us a ministry we were not even looking for or asking for, but one we were uniquely designed for - to offer an online ministry that goes beyond a physical locality. God wanted an online Church Requel in Pike Road, Alabama, in Louisa, Virginia, in Trinidad, California and in Devon, England. God wanted an online church in Crestwood Care Center. These were His plans for our future and hope… and we discovered His plans and our own uniqueness by seeking Him with our whole heart.
So what does any of this have to do with the student ministry today? Simply this - we came about the online ministry by being close to God and willing to fulfill his gifting to us. Some of us have a technical mind, a God-given talent to understand what it takes to broadcast over the internet. We marry God’s gifting with our closeness to God and our willingness to obey, and great miraculous ministry results.
I now believe the same thing is happening today for student ministry.
#3 - Jesus Gives Us Opportunity FOR STUDENT MINISTRY.
There is no question that reaching the hearts of children has always been important to Jesus. You all remember the story when the disciples decided to be the gatekeepers to Jesus and kept the children from coming to him. Jesus was having none of that!
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Mark 10:16
We have in our midst a man prepared for student ministry. You all know him. Eddie Walker. Here is a man professionally trained as a teacher. Here is a man who has served as student ministry leader at another church. Here is a man who is a pied piper of kids… where he goes, kids are sure to follow. Here is a man who honestly (and he will admit to this) is just a big kid at heart himself.
One more thing - and this is the most important thing - here is a man after God’s own heart. I believe God has called him to be a student minister, and not just any student minister anywhere, but a student minister here at Church Requel. At this unique family of God. God’s timing. God’s planning. God’s providing!
So what will be our strategy? How will we accomplish student ministry, aka The Sequels, here at Church Requel?
#4 - Jesus Will Make Student Ministry Work By Our UNITY AND UNIQUENESS.
I don’t know exactly what this is going to look like. I’m not going in this time with a plan in mind to do this one certain way. I’m not reading books about other successful student ministries. Here’s what I am doing. I’m praying. I’m asking God to take us as His unique children and His unique church with His unique gifts and to use us in His own unique fashion to reach the unique students He has already decided could benefit from this unique ministry! How do we do this?
“All of you have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” 1 Peter 3:8
We want to be together in this purpose - to reach students for Christ. That is the goal. How we accomplish this will be up to Jesus. We go to Him and we say, Lord, we are together in this. We are united in our desire to serve you. You have provided us your servant. Thank You for that. Help us to support him. Help us to have sympathy for him. Help us to have brotherly love for him. Help us to have a tender heart and a humble mind. Lord we ask that You would lead him to lead us so that we might be even more united and more available to be used by You!
That’s going to be our strategy. To follow Eddie as he follows Jesus. To pray for him. To volunteer to help him when we can. To look for the opportunities when God presents them to us and then to not waver, but step in and do what God calls us to do.
I believe with all my heart that if we humbly move forward in this fashion, we won’t believe what God will accomplish through Church Requel and through Church Sequel!