New clothes. New shoes. New supplies. Yes, it’s that time of year again! The fun of the summer has faded, and students are starting the new school year. In the midst of this transition, our student ministry is also preparing for the fall.
Our staff and volunteers are eager to challenge students to make the most of this year for the work of the gospel. Whether it’s a student’s first year in middle school or a senior’s last year in high school, we desire for all students to be a light and make the most of every opportunity to share the gospel.
Students will spend around 1,200 hours at school in a single year, plus many more in extra-curricular activities. Each campus is a mission field, and we want to prepare students as Jesus Christ did when he sent his disciples.
In student ministry we want to equip all to share the Good News to friends and peers this year. We offer simple ways to turn everyday conversations to spiritual matters including:
We also encourage students to use their time with peers (i.e. at practice, after school, lunch and bus ride home) as opportunities to reflect the love of Christ in an intentional way.
“And then he told them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.’” Mark 16:15
“How can we show the love of Christ?”
This was the question we asked when we began planning our college and young adult ministry trip to the South Texas Children’s Home (STCH) in Goliad, Texas. Many of the women at STCH have experienced an abusive relationship or are recovering from an addictive past. We extensively discussed ways we could show Christ’s love and made plans to visit the facility.
We gathered 15 of our young adults and made the short trip to Goliad. We brought a few donations, but mainly, we were just ready to serve in whatever way was needed.
Our team was able to do extensive yard work – mow and weed, work in the garden, wash windows and cars, paint buildings, construct a play-kitchenette for the children and sort donated clothes. While these physical tasks really made a difference, the relational needs we met were far more impactful.
The first night we split into two groups. One group organized a movie night followed by interactive games for the children. Our second group treated the women to a spa night. The women were overwhelmed with appreciation for the evening; one woman told us, “I have never felt this feminine before.”
On our final night, we held an ice cream social for the families. After the gathering, Bear Creek girls prayed with each woman individually while the guys played with the children. The women expressed sincere gratitude for this weekend of support.
At the end of the trip, one of the house leaders mentioned that many groups have come to STCH to love on the kids, but no one had ever visited to primarily support and comfort the women until now.
Now I know that reaching these women was exactly what God intended when we set out on a mission to share the love of Christ.
A disciple is an apprentice of the Lord Jesus, one who responds to his gracious invitation to come and be connected to him and be taught by him how to live obediently in every circumstance with the beauty, goodness and strength God intended when he created us.
So discipleship is gladly acknowledging God’s authority in all things and obeying everything Jesus commanded (Matt 28:18–20). (More on this obedience in a future post.) Jesus summarizes God’s will for our lives and the obedience that we owe to him with the two Great Commandments: we are to love God before everything else and to love others with the same commitment we have to our own well-being (Matt. 22:37–40).
But how do you decide what to love, and especially what to love so completely? In normal human experience, what we love most is what drives and determines most of our decisions and not the other way round. We don’t decide to love something. We love something just because we do. But discipleship to the Lord Jesus demands a total reorientation of the most fundamental loves, allegiances, priorities, commitments and identities in our lives. That means that we need something or someone from outside ourselves to initiate this total transformation of our lives.
Discipleship means living out of a new kind of love, and having those new loves requires having a new heart. Or the way that Jesus said it, if you want to experience the kind of abundant life that only can come by living it entirely and gladly under God’s authority, then you have to be born again (John 3:3). The only way to experience that new birth is to believe that Jesus’ death enables him to give you his heart and his life that love God and others just the way we were created to (John 3:14–15).
Our discipleship to Jesus is born out of faith in him through the gospel.
But the centrality of the gospel doesn’t stop with our new birth. Not only is discipleship gospel-born, it is also gospel-borne. Our full reliance on the perfect obedience of Christ continues to carry us throughout our life of discipleship to Jesus. As Tim Keller has written, “The gospel not only is the way we are saved but also is always the solution to every problem and the way to advance at every stage in the Christian life.”
There is no way to become a disciple of the Lord Jesus other than by the gospel and the new birth, new heart, new spirit and new life that it promises to us. And there is no way to continue to grow to become more like Jesus apart from Jesus and our reliance on all he has done for us on the cross and in his resurrection.
We become more fully obedient to his commands to love God and love others only as we become less confident in ourselves and our own spiritual capabilities and more fully confident in Christ’s prior, perfect and perfecting love for us, decisively demonstrated on the cross (1 John 4:16–21).
(This post is the first in a series of six posts that will highlight essential attributes of biblical discipleship.)
The gospel has an ethic. And that is an ethic that loves no matter what. That speaks out against and works against injustice in any society. And that suffers with those who suffer no matter how different they are than you and no matter how different their attitudes may be than yours.
It’s my mother’s fault.
I am a military brat, Air Force to be specific. We traveled all over the U.S., and so I didn’t attend the same schools or keep the same friends. What was a constant was watching my mom serve our country wherever Dad was stationed. She was the ultimate example of a volunteer in our schools and community. Volunteering was what you did to make a difference, to be a contributing member of society. It was as much a part of my upbringing as anything.
I did not start my personal relationship with Christ until I was in my 20s, and I was really interested in what the Bible said about volunteering. Funny thing, I couldn’t find the word, volunteer, anywhere in Scripture. What I did find was the word, serve, over and over again.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people. Ephesians 6:7
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10
The word volunteer in human terms implies that we have a choice about volunteering or serving. As Christians, we do not have a choice to serve. It is commanded and required from a disciple of Christ. If we are to be Christ like, to reflect the glory of God, we must follow his example of service.
This is the time of year where we are actively staffing for promotion Sunday in August. If you are not currently serving, please be in prayer about where God has already equipped you to serve. If you are not sure where that would be, please contact me at and we can spend some time figuring it out.
I love to serve; it’s where I have made my closest friends. It is where I experience great joy. My husband and son would probably say that I have raised my hand too often to serve. In my defense, I was just following mom. And Jesus.
Grow in community and learn about exciting events to be a part of. Signup for our weekly newsletter here.
Join the discussion and keep up to date on the latest news by following our Twitter.
© 2016 Bear Creek Church - A church for Cypress, Katy and West Houston | 5901 N. Fry Road, Katy, TX US 77449