That’s the basic thought behind our newest addition to Awaken Church, Awaken Students (an extension of Awaken Groups).
Youth ministry is nothing new to me. I’ve been going to summer camps since I was old enough to go. When I was about 15, God grabbed me at a summer camp and never let go. We got back home, and since our church was small and didn’t have a youth pastor, we decided to start up our own youth group (which, by the way, is still going today – I’m designing t-shirts for them soon!). That’s where it all began for me. From there, I went on to run the Bible Club at my high school, go to School of Ministry after high school, then go on to be the Middle School Youth Pastor at Calvary Albuquerque. Needless to say, youth ministry played a big role in who I am today.
I’ve been asked if that’s what this would eventually grow into. Probably not. I see a deeper value in taking a different approach than what might be considered “the norm” for reaching teenagers for Christ.
One unique thing about Awaken is that we have such a broad mix of ages. We have grandparents all the way down to 6th graders worshiping together. In fact, on Sunday, 2 of the 4 people who gave their lives to Christ or recommitted their lives to Him were students (14 and 17 years old)! Here’s the idea behind Awaken Students…
We want students, from the time they graduate out of Awaken Kids and hit 6th grade, to begin worshiping, studying, and applying God’s Word with the rest of us. By providing that opportunity, as well as outlets for them to serve and get together in small groups, we’re training them how to involve themselves in the body of Christ. By the time they graduate high school, hopefully it is ingrained in their brains that part of being in the body of Christ is worshiping through singing, studying the Word, serving, giving, and being part of a small group.
Youth groups have the unfortunate reputation for being a place where students can go for “Christian entertainment.” Whether you’re 16 or 60, you are BOMBARDED with entertainment throughout the week! What students (as well as the rest of the body of Christ) really need are real, genuine, Christ-centered relationships outside of the church walls. Entertainment is everywhere; genuine relationships are not.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with a pie in the face or some ketchup-smothered eating challenges every once in a while, but that’s not what Awaken Students is centered on.
That said, Awaken Students isn’t sans-fun. In fact, we have an exciting announcement coming tomorrow night at Awaken about an event we have coming up just for the students of Awaken! Rest assured, Awaken Students will be everything but boring.
We want student to develop real, genuine, Christ-centered relationships. We want to see students grow deep in their walks with Christ from a very young age. That doesn’t mean boring, stale group therapy sessions. That means being real with each other – talking openly and honestly about what’s going on. We all need that at every age and every stage along the way.
Awaken Students works a little differently from the rest of Awaken Groups. They will be discussing the Sunday message, like many of the other groups, but the students group will be an OPEN group. That simply means that we won’t be putting a limit of how many students can come to it – it will remain open for them to invite friends. Awaken Students will be meeting at the church on Sunday evenings at 6:30pm to discuss the content of the Sunday message. They’ll be split up into gender- and age–appropriate groups with leaders for the discussion and prayer. Like the other groups, they will also have 8 weeks of discussion, 1 week of community outreach, and 1 week of fun/hangout each trimester.
Awaken Students meets Sun, March 6-May 8. Students can sign up for the group beginning TOMORROW – Wed, Feb 23 at 6pm!
If your student attends Awaken, or is simply looking for a great place to connect with other students, this is the place!