The following is a guest post by Tyler Recker.
a bittersweet transition.
As of this past Sunday, I am no longer the lead student minister here at NewBranch. This is a bittersweet time for me. Bitter because I love students, and I especially love every student we have within doxa student ministry. While I will still be around doxa helping Kevin for as long as the Lord permits, I am sad because I know that this is, in many respects, the beginning of the end of student ministry for me.
During my time in student ministry, I learned some new things, had some suspicions confirmed, and became more deeply convicted about other things. I would like to share those things with you today. I hope I can be reflective without being self-promoting (after there is nothing in my self worth promoting, only Christ).
1. My suspicion that students could handle going deep in the faith was confirmed.
Last year at Revive, a fellow student pastor marveled because we had a middle school student chilling in his bed reading “The Glory of Christ” by R.C. Sproul. That is just one tiny example of what I believed was true about students, and what has been confirmed: students can handle wrestling with the deep truths of the faith. As I’ve often pointed out, they study Calculus and Physics in school, they can handle more than “Jesus loves me this I know” at church.
2. My suspicion that students didn’t have to be lazy and self-centered was confirmed.
If I say “teenager”, you likely think “lazy”, “selfish”, and “rebellious”. I would then have to tell you about the kids who I have watched faithfully serve in after-school ministries twice a week for the past 4 years. Or the kids who showed up faithfully to do apartment ministry or inner-city ministry on Saturday mornings. The truth is that it’s not that teenagers are inherently self-consumed, it’s that we all are. And teenagers can realize the joy of serving others as well as the rest of us.
3. My suspicion that entertainment wasn’t particularly attractive was confirmed.
I grew up in this area and I know that most high school kids can find way better entertainment outside the church than anything we ever could put on to attract kids to church. However, what I believe is particularly attractive for students is a grace-filled community.
4. I became more deeply convicted than ever that parents are the primary disciplers of their students.
I believed this going in by head knowledge, and I believe this now with experience backed passion. There is nothing that compares to the biblically faithful example and teaching that parents provide with their students at home. We get to interact with kids 4-5 hours a week. Parents have way more opportunity for life on life discipleship. It’s God’s design.
A parent that walks the walk, repents openly when they fail, lovingly disciplines their kid, and has a passion for God’s Word is the biggest positive influence possible on a student.
5. I learned that real corporate health is a marathon, not a sprint.
We are just now turning a big corner within doxa where students are “getting it” when it comes to mission. Likewise, Kevin and I and the other adult leaders fought for years to get students to see the need for community. It’s a marathon for sure. Not because students are slow, but because sinful patterns of thinking and living often die slow. Sometimes sanctification is microwaved and goes quick, however most times it’s a slow and daily grind.
6. I was confirmed in my thinking that this task is far beyond me.
There are so many crazy things that have happened in the last 4 years. So many stories where I didn’t have the words to say. So many in-over-my-head situations. I have become experientially convicted of the fact that “neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth”.
Further, I was confirmed that the task of seeing people come to deeper levels of faith is one that is utterly dependent on the Spirit of God. I have preached horrific sermons, and watched God move on people to repent of serious idolatry. Further, I have preached the most beautiful sermons, and watched students shrug their shoulders. (How arrogant. I know… I’m messed up.)
As we move forward within the student ministry under Kevin’s very gifted leadership, I will savor every opportunity to minister to students. I look forward to seeing what God continues to do through these students, and I am prayerfully expectant that these students will do great things to glorify Him.
I mentioned how moving forward is bittersweet, and elaborated on how it is bitter…It is sweet because I know that this next step is one step closer to what I believe God has called me to ultimately: planting or replanting a church. So, all of this to say, I am simultaneously excited about my new responsibilities and sad that it sets me on a trajectory of in the next couple of years no longer actively serving in student ministry.