• Will Spink
    Senior Pastor
  • Wyketa Shipman
    Executive Assistant
  • Ron Clegg
    Associate Pastor, Discipleship
  • Shannon Clark
    Administrative Assistant
  • James Parker
    Chief Musician
  • Peter Render
    Assistant Pastor, Youth/Families
  • Christine Betts
    Assistant Director, Youth/Families
  • Ty Commons
    Youth & Families Intern
  • Kim Delchamps
    Administrative Assistant
    Youth/Children
  • Derrick Harris
    Assistant Pastor, Shepherding & Young Families
  • Angela Sierk
    Director, Children's Ministry
  • Niña Banta Cash
    Director, Nursery
  • Robert Blevins
    Director, Community Development
  • Janice Crowson
    Director, Facilities/Finance
  • Daniel Brown
    Print & Digital Media Specialist
  • General Contact
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The Ministry of Presence


The Ministry of Presence
Youth Summer Focus

High-Life as the youth ministry of Southwood, has a focus of students in Huntsville experiencing and expressing the grace of God.  One of the core values in the constant drive to that end is contact work. 

The idea of contact work is reflected in this passage from our youth ministry Core Book:  “Jesus, the Son of God, became a man just like us.  Once he was here, he spent countless hours with his twelve disciples, as well as many other followers.  Jesus walked, talked, and lived with his twelve closest friends for three years; and in this way he impacted their lives.  In the same way, the leaders of High-Life Ministries seek to be a presence in each of the students’ lives.  There are numerous invaluable aspects in leading and discipling students; however, one of the most important is being a presence in a student’s life.”

Summer Intern
While contact work is a core value for the youth staff in the entire year, its hey day is summer.  During the school year, family schedules are often quite full.  While often students have sports and trips in the summer, there is also increased flexibility in their schedules and larger blocks of time to invest in their lives.  Because of the great honor and opportunity for contact work in the summer, it has been a pleasure for High-Life often to have a summer intern.  The summer 2016 youth intern is a Southwood member himself, as a high school student volunteered with children’s Sunday school and VBS, and was a member of Jr and Sr Crew.  Trey Gordon is a sophomore at UNA and, as the summer youth intern, will be focusing on spending time with students and being trained in ministry.

Philosophy of Summer
High-Life strives to meet the families and students of Huntsville where they are as we seek to make a difference where we live, work and play.  The youth ministry is dedicated to offering students study of God’s word, opportunities to serve and prayer throughout the year.  In the summer this ideal looks very different than in the school year.  In a school year filled with routine, it is an honor to have weekly large group youth meetings, Sunday school classes, small groups, Cookie Tuesdays and retreats.  In the summer families have flexibility and increased availability in their schedules, and with longer days and warmer weather comes a more relaxed feel.  While there will be occasional large group events (summer kick-offs, pool parties and the like), High-Life is better able to meet the families where they are by having contact work be the main focus of the June and July months. 

“More and more the desire grows in me to simply walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence.  Still, it is not as simple as it seems.  My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets.

It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress.  But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you don’t simply like them, but you truly love them.”

—Henri Nouwen

Conclusion
To experience and express the grace of Christ with students and their families in their daily lives by following Christ’s model of incarnational ministry is in the heartbeat of the youth ministry at Southwood.  The ministry of presence takes many different forms through the seasons of the year and the seasons of a student’s life.  What an honor it is for the youth staff and leaders to be allowed an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus by being delighted to share not only the gospel of God but their very lives as well.