Growing up, I was never involved in the church. It wasn’t until three years after I was saved at a church event that I became a member of a church and got involved. While I was there as a high schooler, the student ministry made a huge impact on my life. The things that stood out most to me was the genuine care from the youth pastor and the acceptance of the youth group. It was amazing to be a part of a group of believers who were all growing together and were close to my age. Here are some of the big ways the student ministry impacted my life:
- The youth pastor made sure that I felt welcomed and included. He and his wife would ask thought-provoking questions, prayed for me on the spot, visit my mom while she was in the hospital, and challenge me to go deeper in my faith. I don’t think that a youth ministry can be successful without a youth pastor who shows that they care.
- Getting to talk to the other high schoolers on Sunday and Wednesday nights and talking about the series we were going through at the time was always encouraging and stimulated me to act on my faith in school. Knowing that there were others with the same mindset and mission at the same school and knowing that I wasn’t the only one that was praying over my school helped me to have more confidence in living out my faith.
- Having youth leaders that would come with us to events, lead us in Sunday school, and even come to our schools for events like Fellowship of Christian Athletes showed how much the church cared for their youth. These leaders opened up their homes for us and hearts as they shared their own life stories for us to learn from.
- Having an internship under my youth pastor was the biggest impact that the student ministry made on my life. It was during those two years that I was pushed out of my comfort zones. We started the “welcoming committee” where we would greet and talk to each person that walked in which is something I had only been on the receiving end before then. It was a new experience to be the one that was initiating the conversations that might be the deciding factor on people wanting to keep coming or not. I also was pushed out of my comfort zone in photography since I was the photography and videography intern. My youth pastor gave me advice, and I was able to learn a lot of things that are still helpful to this day as I continue to try and improve my photography. The biggest way I challenged during this internship was by studying God’s Word deeply and writing about what I learned and by leading a girl’s Bible study. These two things made me see that there was so much more to God’s Word than words on a page. I grew the most from this.
So, youth pastors and youth workers, don’t think that anything you do is pointless. Pour yourself into your students, and you will make an impact and see lives changed. Even the small things that you do, like invite students over for dinner, make a lasting impression.
Katie is a student at the College at Southeastern majoring in English. She hopes to use her English degree to teach overseas and spread the Gospel wherever she goes. In her spare time, Katie likes to practice photography, spend time with her friends and family, and play with her dog.