The following are notes by Jeremy Holbrook from Jamey Dickens’ OC16 presentation.
Why we do what we do:
– We want to be influencers in the most influential stage of someone’s life.
– The problem isn’t what students encounter when they leave . . . but what they take with them: Their faith.
– We are seeing that 50% of students are leaving the church and their faith, after high school. Because of this, we do not want them to take a weak, shallow, shaky or borrowed faith with them. We aim for authentic.
– Leading small: Investing in the lives of a few over time to help them build an authentic faith.
It’s just as important to know what you are not, as it is to know what you are.
– You are not a parent and not a peer, you’re somewhere in between.
– You’re not a group member or the group teacher, you’re somewhere in between.
– You’re not the sports guy, academic girl, hobbies helper, or random friend.
– Show up predictably. (Consistency & Longevity)
– Show up mentally. (Put your phone away)
– Show up randomly. (Once a week on their phone, once a semester have a group hang out, once a semester show up at a random event like a ballgame . . . and take & post pictures on social media . . . and once a year have a one-to-one meeting.)
Create a Safe Place
Lead the group:
- Have ground rules. “We are real…we love each other…and we are confidential.”
- Lead the group habits such as cross talk, the start time when group goes from fun and games to real talk time and prayer time.
- The way you respond to “crazy answers”. You can freak out on the inside, but stay calm on the outside.
Respect the Process:
Everyone in your group is not going to be in the same place spiritually, socially, economically . . . they’re going to be all over the map, and you’re going to have to manage that atmosphere. Your job is not to CHANGE them (the verse doesn’t say “change your neighbor as yourself), your job is to LOVE them. People are a process. Remember, the responsibility for results is up to God, He’s the one that makes it grow!
Guard the heart:
There will be times when home dysfunction, past hurts, and emotional scars can come out in group time.
- Go Offline—talk to them after group about that circumstance.
- Urgent Followup—stuff is going on at home and nobody has any idea . . . they may even say it in passing, because they do not know how to emotionally process it.
- Required Reporting—Self harm, harm to others, abuse. You must take this issue to your Pastor.
Partner With Parents
Cue The Parent. Introduce yourself to the parent and cue them about their son or daughter. They are the biggest time spender with the students—their influence is the biggest! Also honor the parent and reinforce the family. Parents want to be part of big wins like Baptism or moments of spiritual growth.
Make it Personal
The biggest gift you’re going to give them is yourself!
- Live in the community. You need to model personal growth in your authentic faith, too!
- Set the priorities. They need to see you set your family first.
- Keep it Real. The number one thing kids need isn’t someone “cool” they need someone that is real.
Move Them Out
– Move them to someone else (they need more than one big influence in their life.
– Move them to be the Church (it’s not anoint doing something, it’s about BEING something. Serve in other ministry areas)
– Move them to what’s next (elementary to middle school transition…then high school….then to college..)
Jeremy Holbrook is the pastor for children’s ministries at Wildwood Church in Ashland, Kentucky.