The following is a guest post by Tyler Recker.
Come May, I will have had the privilege of serving as the student minister here for 4 years. I felt called here as a 19 year old just finishing up my freshman year of college and I felt absolutely overwhelmed by the task at hand. Since that time to now, I have been married for 2 and a half years now and will graduate college at the end of the summer.
Here’s the thing: I’m still utterly overwhelmed.
God has called me to the task of equipping students to advance the Gospel among their friends in the upper middle class suburbs surrounding our church. Jesus likens this task to trying to get a camel through the eye of the needle. It’s impossible. But God can.
In that time, God has always surrounded me with a wonderful team to work with. Please allow me a moment to thank them.
I recruited one of the best woman adult leaders to work with me by marrying her. Serving alongside Leah to disciple students has been a great joy to us. Meatloaf has been with us from day one always willing to do anything we needed and serve in any way he could. He has been a great encouragement to everyone he is around. Likewise, Charles has been a great value to our ministry through teaching and pouring into dudes.
Having Kevin and Lauren join us is an unheard of blessing because of their experience in student ministry. Then, we were joined by Leanne in a very relational discipleship role. Also, Shawn and Lisa have served well as encouragers and in support roles. Who could forget Josie’s wonderful work managing meals for Wednesday nights? Then, as if having Kevin to help me preach was not enough, God brought Joe here to help us preach (Listen to this sermon!). Most recently, the Sherwoods have joined us to help with our Wednesday night and with student ministry. I stay overwhelmed by the humor of God that I would lead people like this when I just want to learn from these folks myself.
The vision of our student ministry is to “glorify God by making disciples of all nations” using students and focusing on students. We’re part of NewBranch. Our mission is the same as the rest of the church, because we are currently part of the rest of the church.
Likewise, there are some convictions I have about student ministry that I would like to explore more in a series of upcoming posts.
I believe that students have, in recent years, been crushed under the weight of LOW expectations. For too long, they have learned Calculus in school and “Jesus loves me this I know” at church. For too long, we have spoon fed students little morality lessons but not encouraged them to wrestle deeply with issues of theology. For too long, we’ve succumbed to the entertainment route, and not challenged them to the greater joy of selfless service. For too long, we’ve declared victory if our kids don’t drink whiskey, smoke marijuana, or have intercourse while often in their morality, their hearts are still far from God.
So, we have high expectations for students, and especially students who profess to be followers of Jesus. In short, we are begging God to raise up students who are more than nominal, cultural Christians, but instead are students so rocked by the grace of God in the Cross that they live a full on lifestyle of worship.
But this is a needle that must be threaded very carefully.
Jesus bemoaned that the Pharisees “[tied] up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves [were] not willing to move them with their finger.” (Matthew 23:4)
The Gospel is grace. It is a free gift. A gospel of works is heresy and in light of our utter depravity, it would be no “good news” at all.
And this works out well for us who are so jacked up in our sin that we can’t do a thing to save ourselves. Nothing. No amount of going to church, going to student ministry, reading our Bibles, going to KidZone, talking to others about Jesus, etc. None of that could ever be good enough to atone for our wicked rebellion.
So grace is good.
The Gospel is all grace, and no works. Our only part in the Gospel is response. And Ephesians 2 says that the faith that we respond with is a gift from God.
Even more, not only were we (who are believers) all saved by grace, but we are still actively being saved from the power of sin in our lives by grace, and we will ultimately be completely saved from the presence of sin by grace.
It’s all about what He did, and none of our salvation is accomplished by what we do. Not the slightest bit.
And we don’t want to convey that.
Next week, we will talk more about what we do at doxa to thread that needle.