This is hitting our Annual Report in a few days...
2008 has been an interesting year for our ministry team. We’ll look at our ministry from the following standpoints GROWTH, EVENTS, and CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES.
There are many victories in the growth category. We have seen numerical growth at all of our weekly events. For the last quarter of the year on Wednesday nights, most weeks we had more that 30 middle school and high school students come to youth group. We are seeing some students make the transition from Wednesday night to Sunday morning and even Sunday night. We saw 3 students come to Christ through baptism.
In September, we introduced the “Family Table” concept to a very skeptical group of kids (and adults). Each Family Table has a Table Parent (or 2). The kids sit at the same tables with the same adults each week; this has allowed them to develop relationships with Christian adults who are there to simply engage the kids and talk to them about their life. Within a few weeks, the kids fell in love with the idea, and it is now an integral part of our culture.
At the end of the 2007-2008 school year, we had a number of adults leave our ministry; Seth and Megan Clark left to have their first child, Sher Barns left to focus more on her ministry at school, and Laurie Thomas went to grad school at UNI. For most ministries, this would have been a disaster. BUT…in May we had a meeting for adults and we had 17 attend which is amazing. We found a place for those adults, while God alone deserves the glory for what is happening here, He is using THEM to accomplish His will.
2008 was filled with a wide variety of events. Our typical week consisted of 3 regular gatherings. Sunday mornings we met from 8:45-9:45 for Sunday School. At Sunday School, we use the Faithweaver material, which, over the course of 3 years, leads our students through an overview of the entire Bible. Sunday nights we met from 6:00-8:00 for D-Group. D-Group is a time of deeper Bible study, we covered a wide variety of topics from the Gospel of Mark, to the Biblical statements on government and war to a study on 12 core beliefs that Christians hold to. Wednesday nights we met from 5:45-8:pm. In this time, we ate a meal together, had a group fellowship/game time, and in our small groups, talked about the Person of Jesus.
We went and served food at the Saturday Evening Meal Program in
Downtown Cedar Rapids, and we worked with Mid-American Energy’s Housing Assistance Program during our 30 Hour Famine. We left Cedar Rapids on more than few occasions, our middle school kids went to Omaha for CIY Believe, our high school kids went to Omaha for a Nebraska Christian College event. We offered two mission trips; one went to Morning Star Ranch in Florence, Kansas, and the other to San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Add in there several summer camp weeks at North East Iowa Christian Service Camp, and our students were involved in the gospel everywhere…from here in Cedar Rapids, to the states of Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska, and even in Mexico!
CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
2008 was not without it’s challenges. The biggest growth piece for us as a ministry was learning that God can and will do more than we can ask or imagine. This manifested itself on our 2 mission trips and with our 30 Hour Famine service project. Adults and kids alike were challenged to grow, they got tired, hungry, cranky, selfish…and yet, God moved and worked. All of the work that we set out to do was accomplished, and that is what God does. We grew in numbers, while our building space shrank due to flooding in our basement. Our entire ministry team turned over and we had an entire new set of adults working with our kids. God accomplished His good and perfect will with us, through us, and despite us.
2009 will be a year of opportunity. We are looking to increase our partnership with parents. The majority of the kids that come to our events are NOT Eastview students. Because of this, we’ll need to work even harder to get with parents and adults. While we have seen numeric growth, we are asking ourselves as leaders the following question: “How can we get our students to examine their own understanding of Jesus?”. We’ll continue to evaluate our events…are we simply filling calendars and giving kids something to do, or are we creating an environment where they will hear God? May God help us to be about the latter.
-Student Ministry Team