Almost all of the current research available about how young people remain connected to their faith and their church after graduating high school is in agreement on one thing. That one thing is that students who remain connected have 5-7 adults who have been faith influencers in their lives. This ranges from parents to grandparents and from Sunday School teachers to family friends. The most important factor in long term faith development is adults living life in front of and passing down faith in Christ Jesus to the next generation.
This is why I want to focus on those who are doing the work of the youth ministry in the congregation I work for—Cincinnati Christian Church. The people who every week invest in at least one child who is a part of this community.
Allow me to brag on our high school team. This is a team who will often be ears to students who are differentiating themselves from their parents. These people are the ones who get to speak life into our students at a time when the students are questioning mom and dad’s ability to know things. It starts with our Sunday School teachers David Spillman and Joe Randall. These two men are passionate about Jesus and helping our high school students know Jesus through scripture. On Sunday nights, in our life groups, Andy Brough, Kathy Price, and Josh Allgood have been doing an outstanding job facilitating discussions about how to live like Jesus. And on Wednesday night Dan Wilson, David and Sara Spillman, and Kathy have been meeting students where they are at, sharing laughter and stories as they have made themselves available to our students.
We also have a middle school team who faithfully has been building up the squirreliest bunch of young people we have among us. Our middle school team, more than any of the others is encountering young people in our community who have little to no church background, which often leads to off topic discussion and crazy questions. But this team is rocking it. Christy Boles has taken ownership of the 7th and 8th grade Sunday School class and is doing a great job. Bryan Davis loves his 5th and 6th grade Sunday School students and they know it. On Sunday nights Scott and Nancy Schroyer, Gary and Jeniffer Meese, James Skomp, and Tanya Johnson have been leading our life group discipleship program and helping to make Jesus the center of your young people’s lives. The Schroyers and Meeses have also been readily available to laugh and have fun with students on Wednesday. You should see the dodgeball skills of Scott and Gary—impressive. Josh Allgood is also usually in the dodgeball mix as he hangs out with the middle school team in Big Room on Wednesdays.
In our children’s ministry we are going through some transition with those who have served. We are thankful for those who have stepped away into other ministry opportunities after serving so well. That includes Mack and Amy Rogers and Dave and Lesa Williams. Both of those families were amazing in their season of serving and we are grateful. On Sunday mornings during our Kids City worship time, Scott Schroyer continues to be a key teacher in that ministry with the help of his brother Shane. Joe and Jayme Bellman have been added to the team on Sunday morning and are doing a great job being with our children. On Sunday nights James Skomp is stepping in to our Kids City programming and already connecting with the children there along with Dylan Enochs who is present every week.KidsCityon Wednesdays is often attended by a group of children who are rookies to church and look forward to each week with eager anticipation. Gordon and Linda Anderson and Paul Fries and Dylan Enochs are serving in an important role with a group that can sometimes be difficult. And they are shining stars in the lives of those children. In addition, our Sunday School teachers Pauline McGuire, Ella Carter, Tracey Levy, Dan Wilson and Michelle Kieft are making sure children have a positive experience with church, know that Jesus loves them, and know they have adults who care for them.
I have said so much about so many of our programs, but one of our brightest stars is the Early Childhood Ministries Program led by Jenny Stinson. There are to many workers downstairs to mention, but they are creating an incredible environment where young families can feel safe leaving their children, while also helping those children discover Christ for themselves.
I am so proud of all of the people spending their lives building up children and youth. They are making CCC a place to be for families with children. And I am thankful for them.