The first time Evan* visited the Middle School Ministry at Hope, he was a typical 12-year-old boy. Rambunctious. Energetic. Boundary-testing.
"He never wanted to pay attention during small group and at Hazardous we were constantly reminding him to put his phone away,” says C.J. Barone, Middle School Ministry, Raleigh Campus coordinator.
Evan stayed in Student Ministries, started connecting with his leaders and over time something wonderful happened.
Several years later, Evan accompanied the worship team to Middle School Camp as a volunteer. “I looked over one day and saw a young man sitting alone. As I started to approach him, I noticed another person reaching out to him. It was Evan.”
Barone stood back and watched the interaction from a distance.
“I saw a young man who was kind, compassionate and making an effort to reach someone who was feeling alone. It was quite a difference from the Evan I first knew. When it ‘clicks’ for them and you see God working in their lives, it’s humbling and gratifying.”
For Barone, and the other Student Ministries leaders, moments like this make all the noise, sleepless nights and adolescent pranks more than worth it.
“When you see the seeds you’ve been planting come to fruition, there’s nothing like it,” he says.
The mission of Student Ministries is to love middle and high school students where they are and encourage them to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Sounds simple, but teens and pre-teens are complex.
To reach the student demographic, Student Ministries offers a variety of irresistible environments, safe for students to explore who they are in Christ, while discovering their gifts and engaging in their purpose.
For middle school, those environments include small groups at their campus during weekend services, weeknight gatherings called Squad nights near their neighborhoods and/or schools, and monthly large-group gatherings called Hazardous.
Special events such as Small Group Camp, Haz 42, Best of the Mess and Invasion create opportunities to make memories, laugh and cut-loose while growing closer to each other and closer to God.
High School is structured similarly. On weekends an emphasis is placed on serving. Midweek HSM small groups are designed as a place for students to explore God’s amazing love while learning more about who He has called them to be, find connection and community while connecting with students and adult leaders.
The first Wednesday of the month, high school students from all over the Triangle gather for Pulse, an evening of worship and teaching designed just for them.
Additionally, mission opportunities, camp and other special events help launch high school students into their own faith journey.
“We exist not just for students, but to extend the relationship into the household. We are constantly developing ways to partner with parents as we work together to model the love of Christ,” Reynolds notes. “This year we’ve added something called Coffee Talks, where parents come and get to know their students’ leaders, ask questions and get the opportunity to connect what we’re doing with what they’re doing at home.
“The goal of Family Ministry as a whole, including Student Ministries, is to minister to the entire family, regardless of their stage of life."
*Not his real name