Reckless, messy, loud, giggly, stinky? Or passionate, driven, focused, wise, capable of leading? How do you perceive high school students? I see both extremes, often within seconds in the same person. Teenagers are experiencing God in the world around them, and their faith is becoming their own. They are taking the biblical knowledge they learned in younger years (thank you parents, Pastor Kurt, and Pastor Devin) and applying it to their own lives. It is in these exciting years that I am SO very blessed to invest in them!
Why do I invest in High School students? To Make Disciples who Make Disciples! They have such a strong influence on their peers in ways that adults do not have. The testimony of a student is SO powerful, and other students are attracted to that. Last year Pastor Eli did a Storyteller Series, and the students shared video testimonies of where they were before and after Christ changed them. Their stories are good, bad, sad, joyful, and hopeful. And when they recognize and allow God to work in their stories, they are influencing others and making disciples! As leaders, we invest in these young people by encouraging, speaking truth, praying for them, teaching and applying the Bible, and showing up in their lives.
Most of these students want someone to show up, notice them, know when they are down or up, and be a faithful cheerleader. They want to belong to something with great meaning. As a small group leader, I hope to connect them to a community of Christ followers who are all trying to walk worthy of God’s calling. I invest in their lives because I want to see them know God deeper and know their value. 1 Timothy 4:12 says: Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Our young people are doing this! We just had a Girls Purity Retreat and they made a vow of purity before God. Our society says this is impossible, but I know that when a young woman is focused on the Lord and has a community of Christ Followers surrounding her…anything is possible.
Another reason I invest in these students is to show them how to serve God and love others. I went to Mexico this summer with 11 high schoolers. As crazy as it sounds, we built a house in four days with Casas por Cristo! When given the opportunity, our students stepped up and worked hard in extreme conditions. The cool thing is that they want to make a difference in real people’s lives, and they tried hard to connect with our neighbors and love them.
I got a first-hand look at God moving these students at CIY this summer. I was blown away. They were transparent…sharing struggles, burdens, and encouraging each other. They worshipped the Lord with ALL their might. Students initiated prayer for each other and stood arm in arm against the gates of hell. They made decisions to follow Christ for the first time, to rededicate their lives, to answer the call to missions, and to make disciples. They came home and have started Bible studies and are passionate about leading prayer groups in their schools. It’s very exciting and humbling to witness this generation following God and marching on. They are not only our future leaders…they are leading right now. Just watch these young people.