• 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
  • 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
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Small View, Big King

Measuring the breadth of impact that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can have on the world is an impossible task. The beautiful thing about being a minister of this Gospel, especially when that ministry is to students, is that you can only minister in the context in which you have been placed. For Christine, Tyler, and me, this context is in the comfortable life of south Huntsville. At a glance, the higher than average income in the families in which the majority of our students are raised makes it seem like their problems are not really problems at all. While students in every context need a reality check to help them to understand how their lives actually stack up to others around the country and around the world, too often this leads them toward not being taken seriously, and not taking others seriously.

“Look through the lens of King Jesus and weigh things accordingly.”

So, which of these students’ problems ought to be taken seriously? My suggestion is to look through the lens of King Jesus and weigh things accordingly. Bullying strikes at the dignity granted to every human being simply by being made in the image of God. Mental illness highlights and exacerbates the brokenness felt by man as we experience the separation from our Creator caused by sin. Materialism displays our propensity toward idolatry, which is actually just our desire to look to ourselves as the thing to which we are purposed. The Gospel addresses each of these things in their communities clearly while pointing us toward our Savior. I do not think that I need to add anecdote to any of these examples to show that reducing human dignity, minimizing our brokenness and separation from God, and emphasizing our autonomy will not result in people who perpetuate the opposite of these things. If the Gospel is not of primary importance in our own lives it is never seen as being of primary importance in the eyes of those whom we influence.

As someone who spent my teen years in a suburb of nowhere, it is fitting to minister in Huntsville. It is almost as if my whole ministry consists of discussing the Gospel in terms of what I wish that someone had told me and my parents. This is wonderful, but in terms of what was discussed in the preceding section, this is a dangerously narrow scope for the Gospel considering the broad work that our Heavenly Father is doing in the world. The good news of Jesus Christ can most definitely transform our individual lives, but it is also transforming lives around Huntsville, north Alabama, the US, and the world. It addresses the problems that are sometimes not taken seriously, even by the church.

Two of the problems that tend to be undersold in 2019 are actually quite prominently dealt with in the Bible. When looking through the lens of King Jesus, the issues of justice and mercy expand our view of the Gospel from what it might mean in our own context. In student ministry, the most pressing task is to get people to love God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love others as they love themselves. Yes, that was meant to make you laugh. “Kids” are just like you and me, too focused upon themselves to see the greater reality that God has for them. Self-centered idolatries are at the root of all sin.

This spring we plan to immerse ourselves and the students into the context of Southwood at large. High-Life Connects will spend our Sunday mornings considering what it looks like truly to take account of the community that surrounds us. Our Winter Retreat will focus on the Gospel issues of justice, mercy, and reconciliation through the lens of Micah and the voice of our speaker, Mark Bryant. All of this has the opportunity to play out in person as we work with our Community Development team on the beginning of what will be regular service to our community partners. As we witness the Gospel expand our vision and transform our lives, we will actively seek to go out and be a little part of what might restore our community.

Hopefully this sounds like too big of an undertaking for High-Life and too big of an undertaking for Southwood. When we are at our most desperate, Christ meets us and shows us a better way. Acting in a manner worthy of those who follow King Jesus ought to make us always feel inadequate and ill-equipped. He is doing work that is much greater than we could ever imagine. I look forward to the way that he will use us as the chief learners in relationships that only the Gospel
can create.