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    Assistant Director, Youth/Families
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    Youth & Families Intern
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    Administrative Assistant
    Youth/Children
  • Derrick Harris
    Assistant Pastor, Shepherding & Young Families
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    Director, Children's Ministry
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    Director, Community Development
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Partnership with Parents


Partnership with Parents

Every year when seniors graduate from Southwood and High-Life ministries, the High-Life staff and volunteers ask themselves, “Have we done enough?” It is easy to imagine parents asking themselves the same question as they send their students out of the home. “Did I tell them the gospel? Did I tell them I loved them? Did I tell them to wash behind their ears?”

While youth workers partner with many different areas including children’s ministry, high schools and local and foreign missions, at graduation it is natural to reflect on one of the most personal partnerships—youth ministry partnering with the parents.

If a person spends any time with seniors in high school their last month of school, he would find that while those students may be delightful, they are adorably wrong and think graduation is about them. Sweet seniors, graduation is about so much more than one student’s accomplishments. It is a time to reflect, celebrate and grieve the end of one stage of life while looking forward to the next. This time of transition encompasses the hard work of the student and partnering with them a whole team of teachers, coaches, youth workers and parents. Graduation is a good time to raise an Ebenezer, to stop and reflect on God’s work in one’s life and offer praise and thanksgiving to a most faithful God. It can also be a time to look forward to the challenges ahead, arming oneself with God’s words of loving kindness.

At Southwood, when an infant or child is baptized three questions are asked of the parent. And then one question is pointed to the congregation. “Do you as a congregation undertake the responsibility of assisting the parents in the Christian nurture of this child?” From praying with and for other families to volunteering at VBS, from taking a meal to a family to letting someone borrow a lawnmower—when a church is operating as a family, there are many ways intentionally to undertake the responsibility of assisting parents.

One beautiful way Southwood members assist parents in the Christian nurture of their children is through youth ministry. Youth ministry should never be intended to take the place of parents investing in the lives of their students but should reflect the embodiment of the baptismal vows to come alongside parents. Youth workers do not attempt to take the place of parents or to offer contradictory information but to lift up and support families. Together with the parents, it is the heart of youth workers to have more hands pointing students to the cross, more hearts vulnerably sharing neediness for a Savior and more mouths declaring God’s truth.

As the seniors of High-Life stop to reflect on their experience with Southwood—whether it be an experience of having attended every youth group and trip since the 7th grade or an experience of having only stopped by the last Cookie Tuesday of the year—the youth leaders have prayed that any student who has come in contact with Southwood has encountered Jesus.

The end of the school year is a joyful yet challenging time in youth ministry. Youth workers look forward to sending the students they have cared for out into the world that the gospel may be proclaimed to all nations. And yet, much like Paul each time he parted from a church he loved, they long for the time that they might see the students again and hear of the Lord’s work in their lives: “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from this first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phillipians 1).

What an honor for parents and adult leaders to be called to partner with God in the work of his kingdom through the lives of high school students.

__________________________________________________________

Melissa Gordon
High-Life Parent
When I think of High-Life, the word LOVE comes to my mind.  High-Life was a community where I was supported as a parent, where I knew my three children were always taught the gospel, and where they were loved unconditionally by men and women who were truly vested in their lives and their Christian journeys.  Even after graduation these men and women remain intricately woven into all our lives.  We are most blessed and thankful for these relationships and the impact this ministry has had on our family.

Trey Gordon
High-Life Graduate 2015 & Summer Intern 2016
High-Life to me was a major opportunity to find who I am in my eyes as well as God’s.  I consider it a major stepping stone in my life spanning from the awkward days of middle school all the way to graduating from high school.  It was a hypothetical bridge that helped support me in growing up to become a strong loving Christian and helped me find my love for helping and serving others.

Jonathan Pope
High-Life Leader & Future High-Life Parent
To me High-Life is a weekly EVENT where youth from our church and the community can come together and learn about and worship the Lord in a fun atmosphere. I’m looking forward to my children having fun life experiences that are centered around Christ.

Charlie Pope
Southwood 2nd Grader & Future High-Life Kid
High-Life is basically a later church, where you get to do games.  I’m looking forward to becoming better friends with the kids from church and making new friends.

Steve Jakab
High-Life Parent
As a parent, I’m thankful for HL, the staff, and all the volunteers that give their time to make an environment that is comfortable and fun for my daughter.  It makes me happy to know that there is a place that Bailey wants to go worship and hangout with friends.

Bailey Jakab
High-Life Senior
High-Life means so much to me.  If I could describe it in one word it would be cozy.  It’s somewhere I can relax and enjoy my friends, singing, the lesson and of course the food!

Todd Gandy
High-Life Parent & Leader
Youth ministry is about being present and planting seeds.  One of the most gratifying things for me as youth leader is to see God grow the seeds that were planted in our students.  Even more gratifying is to see a student that I ministered to while they were in high school now ministering to one of my children.  God constantly uses former High-Life kids to show me how active He is at work in the lives of His people.

Robert Stanfield
High-Life Graduate 2004 & High-Life Leader
High-Life played an integral role in teaching me the truths of the gospel.  When I accepted Jesus in college I understood what the leaders had been telling me for years.  It is so awesome to now serve alongside them and teach their children those same truths.

Parker Gandy
High-Life Freshmen
I did not have a choice but to grow up around High-Life ministry.  Some of my earliest memories are running around the Lodge with kids older than me and always having people in our home.  I think it is pretty cool that some of my High-Life leaders are the same kids my dad was a High-Life leader to.