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This Fall at High-Life


This Fall at High-Life

I was a 9 year old boy in the Panhandle of Texas playing with G.I Joe’s when saints of Southwood were drawing a line in the sand for the youth of Huntsville. The Lodge was a dream no one had envisioned yet, the program was simple and hospitable, and on the other side of the country, I was in the woods with my make shift M-16, putting it all on the line for God and Country! But on this side of the Mississippi, there were a few soldiers who found a spiritual ‘stick in their craw.’ There were some that, in their zeal and passion, made the students of Huntsville a major ministry focus of this church even before the construction of the Lodge or the hiring of a pastor. It’s the age old question, “Which came first, the Pastor or the Youth Ministry?” For Southwood, the ministry came first only then to be followed by a youth ministry staff.

Fast forward a couple decades to where the few have become many. Just last week, 80 adults challenged the carpenters who built the Warner’s patio by filling the porch to hear the Youth Ministry’s state of the union and plan for the Fall. So much has happened in the last 15 years! And when one looks from 50,000 feet, you see how the timeless values we committed to ‘back in the day’ are still here. On another note, one is forced to admit that in order to keep those values in place, we have to work smarter. We need to make adjustments that will help us effectively and winsomely reach the students of Huntsville.

Over the last year, your Staff and Session have wrestled with this question, “How can we be most responsible with our staff, leaders, and programs to serve those that God brings through the door of High-Life?” Allow me to highlight 2 issues/questions that might appear in this season of High-Life and will help us answer this question. Simply put, they are 2 fallacies that usually accompany large youth ministry programs.


Fallacy#1
As High-Life engages more students & acquires more staff, volunteers are less necessary.

As High-Life grows within a growing church, staff are hired to do the work of the ministry BUT, more than ever, their focus now shifts to help you do the work of the ministry (Eph 4:12). The High-Life volunteer base is at the size where we need to hire a seasoned staff in order to help facilitate these volunteers. Over the past Summer, Kayla and Winnie were promoted to act as Sr. and Jr. High Directors. One of the most important aspects of their new job description is this particular issue, leadership development. Not only are they spending time with students and administrating the ministry, they are hunting YOU down, bringing YOU with them to school lunches, and helping YOU show the students of Huntsville love and significance. There are too many students coming through our doors to be reached with 5 staff members. One of the hallmarks of High-Life ministry has always been a powerful presence of the saints (you) within these walls. It captures the heart of Paul when he thanks the church of Phillipi for their Partnership (Phil 1:2)! Consider this…even now, we are looking for more small group leaders and saints who will come along side of staff to reach our covenant students and their friends this year! We are anticipating a large number of students who would like to be placed in small groups with only a few group leaders to offer. The question of the day is how can we as a congregation come along side of a wealth of students that he has already placed in our midst. The answer? We wouldn’t dream of doing it without you.


Fallacy#2
As High-Life engages more students and acquires more staff, you must sacrifice intimacy and closeness among staff and students.

We believe that the kingdom of God is strongly advanced through relationships! A youth group consisting primarily of large group venues is a difficult place to form and propagate relationships. Currently, High Life is ministering to several hundred students while having a mailing list of over 600 students! So, where can a student find the time or place to be vulnerable in such a large group? Where can a student find a venue to be transparent and honest with these kinds of numbers? Where can they find authentic relationships? The answer is small groups! But wait, there’s more….(in your best infomercial voice). High-Life has engaged in small group ministry for over 10 years. In addition to this major program, you will also find healthy opportunities to share much like you would in a small group. For example, In Greenhouse (our Sunday School program), you will not find rows of chairs or couches along the perimeter for students to hide. Instead, tables and chairs are peppered thought the Lodge’s family room to help foster small group discussion and interaction. Also, during High-Life on Sunday nights, we have added an element that will help students feel more comfortable sharing their heart, fears, and struggles. This year, students will be able to text in their questions at the end of High-Life for discussion and interaction. While Greenhouse and High-Life will never be a “small group,” we have planned to add small group elements to each of our large group programs in order to foster relationships across the board.

We are looking forward to a strong year in the Youth Department. As we continue to grow and act responsibly with those that God brings in, we desire to maintain the highest level of partnership with the saints to provide a place for relationships both with God and each other to prosper. May it be so for the sake of His Kingdom.