Hey there New Life Students and Families! We here at New Life have some fairly MAJOR changes coming to Student Ministry through the rest of 2019, and I am so excited to be able to share them with y’all!
After pastoring our 7th-12th graders this past year I have learned a few things that may seem like no-brainers, but I think they’re still important to understand (especially considering the direction we’re heading). The first of which is: 7th graders and 12th graders are in such radically different stages of life and they require radically different approaches for effective ministry. So, we’ve decided that it is in the best interest of our students to separate Junior High and High School from each other. That brings us to part two of the changes.
Starting in August, we will be completely shifting our weekend service times and structure. Beginning with Junior High, our plan is to offer Junior High weekend worship services at all three services.
The plan for these new services is to utilize LC1, one of the rooms above the Life Center. The reasoning behind this is two-fold. First, we desire that, as the whole church moves toward transformational weekend worship and as more and more families come through our doors, we will be ready and equipped to minister to any and every Junior High student whether they arrive on a Saturday night or a Sunday morning. Secondly, one of the most important ingredients to an effective student ministry is a warm and welcoming environment, and while I love the Vertex and it’s amazing facilities, it is easy for an 11 or 12 year old who’s never been to church before to get overwhelmed by all that space (and that’s after they’ve made the trek across the street *often by themselves*). Thus, direct access to the rest of the main campus is crucial to create that welcoming and easily accessible environment for students to step out of Children’s Ministry and continue their faith journey.
Major changes to our High School ministry include moving our High School weekend worship service to Saturday nights at 6 PM, still utilizing the Vertex. I know that at first glance this can seem strange but let me explain. The reality is, nationally about 50% of high school students involved in a student ministry will never walk back into a church for at least four to five years after leaving High School, if not abandoning the church and their faith altogether. Luckily, there are some ways of counteracting that norm, one of which may surprise you: “Contrary to what is widely assumed, more than any other participation variable measured in the Sticky Faith study, students’ participation in all-church worship during high school was consistently linked with developing a mature faith in both high school and college” (https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/articles/what-makes-faith-stick-during-college).
With that in mind, we think it is crucial that our high school students get the opportunity to worship and serve alongside the rest of our congregation, which is why we are leaving Sunday mornings open for students to attend and serve in our 9 + 11 AM services. However, there is still a need for our high schoolers to gather together and express the challenges, concerns, doubts, and questions that are unique to them as well as creating a space where students who didn’t grow up in church can be on-ramped into the life of our congregation, which is why we will have a high school specific service on Saturday nights: to welcome students who would never walk in our doors on a Sunday, and to recognize and celebrate the ways God is moving in and among the students of the Central Coast.
Lastly, we have some planned changes for midweek small groups during the 2019-2020 school year. High school will still meet in the traditional C-Group format, which is a same grade and gender small group in homes. However, our junior high ministry will meet in the Vertex on Wednesday nights from 6:30-8PM for a C-Group midweek service which will include some games, food, a teaching, and then breaking out into small groups divided by gender and grade. We feel our Junior High students need the opportunity to learn what it feels like and looks like to be in a small group, sharing life together in a more structured environment before diving as deep as our High School students do in their home-based C-Groups. These small group changes will not go into effect until the end of September.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to shoot me an email or a phone call. In the meantime, please be praying for our students and our ministry. Also, if you have any interest (or know anyone who might be interested) in serving in our Student Ministry, let me know!
Student Ministries Pastor