By: Taylor Cain
Who will set the example for our students?
The Body of Christ is made up of regenerate, baptized believers who profess faith in Christ and who covenant together in church membership in a gospel-preaching church. In the midst of this Body of believers are toddlers, children, and teenagers. The members of the church commit together to raise their children in the Word both by what they teach their children and by how they live among them. The primary disciple-makers of the children and students in the church are their parents. However, the local church plays a significant role in the life of our children and students.
It is sweet to reflect on the elders in the church where I grew up. These five men were kind, intentional, and cared about my soul. To this day, I remember their example of watching over the congregation through prayer, visiting shut-ins, practicing church discipline, and ministering to children whose families were unbelievers. Their example reminds me that younger generations in the church need older generations to come alongside them and show them how to live. Gospel rookies need gospel veterans to teach them what spiritual maturity and biblical humility look like.
Who does LBC’s student ministry reach?
Our student ministry has a three-fold mission. Our purpose is to assist the parents and to equip the students who have made a profession of faith through discipleship relationships. This is done through discipleship, weekly teaching of the Word, and providing resources for parents to engage their kids in Christ-centered conversations.
Second, our purpose is to engage the students who are children of our members with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I grew up with the deceitful thought that my parents’ salvation was sufficient for me and that on the Day of Judgment, God would look at my parents’ salvation and let me into His Heaven. Many students who have parents in the church can fall into this line of thinking. We are not saved by works or by the works of our parents. We are saved by a personal, God-given faith. One of our aims as a student ministry is to present the gospel intentionally to our students on a weekly basis.
Lastly, the student ministry acts as an arm of the church to minister to students in the Liberty area who do not attend church on Sunday mornings or who do not have family members who follow Christ. However, this is not just our ministry alone. It is our hope that we would come alongside our corporate Body to evangelize the lost. Through those efforts, we expect to see organic growth.
Why do some student ministries feel so separate from the corporate Body?
In college, I worked with several Southern Baptist churches in Arkansas through the Baptist Collegiate Ministry. If the church had the budget to do so, they usually funded a building for their students which was physically separate from the main building where the Body met for worship and Sunday school. The student ministry would have an attractive name that set them apart from the main church, and events hosted by the student ministry didn’t involve the rest of the Body. When it came to service projects, the students were the ones responsible for clean-ups, repairs, or yard work. It was rare to see other members of the Body come alongside these students, who needed examples of godliness and work ethic.
The view that student ministry is somehow disconnected from the church is partly because of how student ministry is often set up and designed—as a distinct and separate entity within the church. Even the occasional student-led service Sundays (which is a common thing in the Bible Belt) communicates that the “main” service is reserved for adults. Student ministry feels separate from the Body because it doesn’t make intentional strides to include other generations from the Body. Also, the Body doesn’t make intentional strides to include students in a variety of ministries in the church.
Student ministries can seem separated or disconnected from the Body of believers. However, they should not be viewed this way. Student events are prime opportunities for generations to work together. The student ministry--just like the Welcome Team, ESL ministry, Hospitality Team, and other ministries within our church—seeks to serve the overall goal of the church, which is to “showcase the glory of God by being and making disciples of Jesus Christ.”
How do we bring generations from the Body together?
So how do we bring generations together? I don’t think the sole answer is to start from within the student ministry. If we want to see the students in our churches grow through discipleship, then we need to be intentional about connecting them to disciple-makers from other generations in our churches.
I believe the answer starts with the whole Body of believers. Both young students and older saints need to consider if they are being intentional to connect with one another. Student ministry shouldn’t be an amputated arm of the church. It takes effort and humility from both generations. When we have student ministry events, I intentionally make mention of ways our Body can participate in and pray for our events. We hosted our first micro-conference last Fall. Instead of reaching outside the church for someone to teach the Word and lead in music, I asked members in our church. My hope moving forward is to provide more avenues to connect multiple generations from our church Body to our students.
As young children, Timothy, Samuel, Moses and others were raised in the faith by their mothers and grandmothers. Where are the older generations who will step up and step out to lead the next generations that will one day lead our churches? They are here in Liberty, Kearney, Kansas City, and around the globe. The only way we will come together is reminding ourselves that the gospel is not bound to one generation, but is needed by all and unites us all.