Ready to Lead

Humans long to be a part of something, we crave a community and we want to be poured into. A youth group is one of the best places for teenagers to experience community, and this is obviously why ministers and parents pour into them so much. CCYM is no exception to this. With United being our summer theme, we’ve been able to practice community as a group and  learn more about how to be a stronger community within the church. So many of these kids are growing up to be leaders and continue to find opportunities where they can lead in their own communities.

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Sophie Hadfield is a great example of someone who is ready to lead and form community. On multiple occasions she’s been asked to step up and lead a song or activity on the spot, and she does it with little hesitation. She has risen up to the task of leading for the middle schoolers and the youth group as a whole. This has been obvious throughout the events of this summer. Her energy is high and her spirit is ready to create opportunities for this group to see and experience Jesus. It is clear that Sophie uses her talents in a way that God can work through them so others can experience His joy and love. It is so special to see God’s spirit working through someone, and when interacting with Sophie you can see Him. That is what we strive to be, people who show others Jesus. She pours into others so well and is so excited to be around people. It is encouraging to watch her allow Christ to work in her life and set an example for the community she is a part of!

 

God Showed His Light

This June we took our fifth graders on a mission trip to Atlanta. We took them to a refugee day camp to play with kids who are less fortunate than we are. While we were there one of our students really stuck out. Gabriel Hodges was extremely involved in including everyone, not only did he include the kids at the camp he also made sure our entire group was involved. While some of the kids might have been focused more on the fun of the trip, Gabriel was focused on seeing Jesus through the trip. He displayed a great Christ-like attitude when everyone was tired from the long day. He was a great example of how Christ would encourage others.

On the second day of the trip we took the kids to Stone Mountain to climb the mountain and enjoy time as a group. Although the mountain was not very hard to climb for some, for others it was a bit of a challenge. 64930710_10155900453926157_1709342261629681664_nOne who stood out in this trying time was Chapman Mathis. She brought an attitude that many parents would be proud to hear their child was displaying on the trip.  She encouraged everyone to keep going, and to finish strong. She was kind to others at all times even when others might not have been the kindest towards our group. Chapman was a strong presence in our group bringing nothing but positivity.

God showed his light through these two kids on this trip. These kids showed a great understanding of how God wants us to act. Both of these kids showed their love for God, and in their journals about the trip talked about how they were seeing him on the trip. God had a big impact on these kids which will continue to grow over time.

 

Step Up

Step up. Own it. Unite. For some of the best and brightest of CCYM, that has been the focus of the summer: creating unity. When it comes down to the importance of community, one of the most common and most effective ways of cultivating future Christian leaders is through a community that undoubtedly only synthesizes during summers in the youth group, with so much continuous time spent together. I have had the distinct pleasure of being a part of this growth experience for a few kids as a youth intern, an experience that has been filled with Jesus.

image2Enter Houston Hicks. At first glance, you might catch him hustling up and down the basketball court in the gym with fellow CCYMers, throwing a football with friends as an up and coming stud quarterback, or even just goofing off with the dynamic group of middle school guys. But make no mistake, he is one of the youngest in the bunch. As a rising seventh grader, his time in CCYM has merely just begun, yet he is extremely keen on connecting with peers not only within his own grade, but of all ages within the middle school. And isn’t that the focus of today’s age? To connect with people on a face to face basis amidst the rising distractions of technology and social media.

It is clear that Hicks has a heart for the people around him. It is a God-given gift to be able to connect with kids of different ages, especially at a young age. As Hicks continues to mature, the seeds that have been planted in him by parents, mentors, and ministers alike will continue to sprout and his impact will continue to be felt by those around him. This, my friends, is discipleship.

 

High School Servant

I had the honor and privilege to travel with twenty-two of our high school kids to Salida, Colorado to participate in Wilderness Expeditions Trek on Mt. Arkansas. Throughout the week, I got to watch God pour into, and out of, these students in so many different ways that if I tried to tell all of them I would need a whole lot more time.

One of Clear Creek Youth Ministry’s (CCYM) main motives is to be lights to the world and to exemplify Jesus in everything we do. As a group, we strive to be consistent in how weact, trying to make Jesus the focal point IMG_0133of our words, actions, and in turn, our lives. One person that truly exemplified everything that CCYM is all about over the week in Colorado was Luke Tucker.

There are different ways to reveal Jesus to others and bring people closer to God. I saw this in Luke through his acts of service to everyone around him as he put himself second to the group, and also by showing Jesus’ unconditional love to everyone. Throughout the entire trip, Luke looked for every opportunity to serve, help and love others. Whether it was giving up a seat, washing dishes, carrying extra weight for someone who was struggling, or just being a verbal encourager to others, Luke was consistently there for the group. Luke poured his love into the group with constant words of support and affirmation, no matter how good or bad he was feeling.

I truly believe that through Luke, others around him saw Jesus more clearly and God was fully glorified through his actions.

 

Send Out the Signal

Not since the 1930’s has there been a generation who, in some form or fashion, wasn’t familiar with the adventures of billionaire bachelor Bruce Wayne and his quest to clean up Gotham City under the guise of the caped crusader.  Few superheroes have gone through more reboots and evolutions than Batman, but through it all, one piece of the story has stood the test of time: the Bat Signal.

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No matter what version of Batman is the “real” one in your mind, you will never see a version where Commissioner Gordon doesn’t have access to the giant spotlight that served as his direct connection to the city’s greatest crime fighter.  When there was a need, simply flip the switch and rest assured that help was on the way.   And isn’t there something comforting about that?  Knowing that you have someone who will reliably show up, time after time, whenever they are needed is something that resonates with everyone. At Clear Creek, we do our best to make this a reality for everyone we serve. We may not use capes or have insanely high-powered spot lights on top of our houses, but we do have a tool that is just as effective: our small groups.

Our groups have begun to master the art of reliably showing up, time after time, whenever someone in their group needs them.  Most often, we see this during life’s big moments be they happy or sad.  Typically when someone in one of our young family small groups gets ready to welcome a new addition to the family, a baby shower and a schedule to take them meals after the birth is already planned before most people even know they are pregnant.  We know stories from groups who, after the death of an elderly family member, have spent hours helping to clean out personal affects all while being a comforting presence for the group member who experienced the loss.  There are stories of long days and nights in the hospital waiting room and joyous anniversary celebrations.  When big things happen, our small groups show up.  And though it is such a blessing to have people show up for you when it is expected, sometimes the most meaningful times are when they show up to help with life’s more subtle needs.

One of our small group leaders took someone in their group out to lunch to help them with their resume after they lost their job.  We have had group members bring dinner to the family of a teacher during the first week of school just to make life a little less crazy.  Groups will set calendar reminders so that they can begin praying for someone in their group the moment they walk into a job interview.  We have seen them meal prep for those who have dietary restrictions, open their homes to one another when major house repairs have them displaced, and drop everything they are doing to help someone in their group get ready to put their house on the market.  On top of that, there are countless stories of phone calls, text messages, notes, and e-mails that seem to always come “just at the right time.”  They reliably show up, time after time, whenever they are needed.

The Bat Signal is a fun piece of a fantasy story that many of us have grown to know and love, but what is most incredible is what it has come to represent.  There is such comfort in knowing that with the metaphorical “flip of a switch,” there is a group of real life superheroes ready to help you face whatever comes next.

Man. Myth. Legend.

Bobby Golden: a widely loved and admired asset to Clear Creek Church of Christ.

IMG_6948This summer, he went along for the ride on our 4th teen mission trip to Haiti. During this week, the teenagers work together to host a summer camp for 200+ Haitian children. This is an opportunity for our students to step up and use their gifts to actively serve the Kingdom. Bobby G blew us away this week with his hard work ethic and desire to be involved with the group. From late nights playing games with the teens, to long hours in the hot sun rallying large groups of Haitian children… Bobby G was there for it all and did not hold back any part of himself for the sake of the mission. He was intentional about his interactions with the teenagers and positive about our many logistical setbacks. Our teens also loved the chance to spend time with him. Christ was evident in Bobby G’s interactions with the Haitian children, but also with the teens on the trip.

Growing up at this church as a little girl, I always looked up to Bobby G. Everyone does. But working closely in ministry with him this summer and in Haiti, I’ve been able to glimpse the wisdom and perspective that he has been awarded from his many years of faithful service to our God. His character mirrors Jesus in every way. He is committed to this youth group. He loves fully and embraced each new experience on our trip with excitement and flexibility. Bobby G’s quiet service to this youth group was seen on this trip to Haiti. It was a privilege to witness.

 

Can a Website Change Your Life?

In the coming days, Clear Creek will be rolling out a new version of our website designed to make it even easier for people to take their next step of discipleship. With so many different things going on at Clear Creek, we want to make sure our church family clearly understands our vision and has simple ways to join us in “Connecting People to God and to Each Other.” The focus is on providing clear, immediate ways to do things like:

  • Worship at Clear Creek or online
  • Join a small group
  • Use one’s gifts to serve our church family
  • Give financially
  • Invest in discipling relationships in our community
  • Be baptized, spend time with God and more.

 

First time guests will also find it easier to learn about our church, come visit us and quickly get plugged into the Clear Creek family.

Important resources like recent sermons, upcoming events, registration forms and daily news will still be available and hopefully more convenient than ever. The website will continue be found at www.clearcreekcoc.org.

Finding Familiarity

44740903_10155417695991157_8686128858564395008_nThere are so many things unique to a small group that you cannot find anywhere else in church. Among other things, a small group can provide a completely non-threatening atmosphere for those who may not be familiar or comfortable with the idea of walking into a large church full of 800 people. Small groups can meet in homes, coffee shops, parks, etc. These are places that all people, regardless of their familiarity with Jesus, can relate to. The more familiarity you can add to the group, the better chance you have for someone to accept an invitation.

One recent example that is just beginning to get off the ground is a group comprised of families who have been involved in Upward Football here at Clear Creek. The idea was to create an easy invitation point and potential landing spot for any of the over 100 families that spend most Saturdays in the fall playing football behind our building.

Like we said before, the more elements of familiarity we can add to an environment, the more likely someone is to visit that environment. So for this new group, the conversation would go something like, “Hey, you know the Birches and the Longs, right? Their kids play on our football team. They and a few other families from Upward hangout at our house every Sunday evening. The kids mostly play the whole time which gives us a chance to have some actual adult interaction. Would you guys want to come?”

Where might you be able to use this approach in your life? Think about those who are in your circle of influence and what connections you share outside of church. Do you run or workout with the same people regularly? Are there families you spend lots of time with because of your kid’s recreational activities? Is there a group of people at work that you consistently eat lunch with? Leverage these connections whenever you can to invite others into relationship with us, and ultimately, with Jesus.

 

A New Wave of Leadership

Several months ago, we had the privilege of writing about the newly formed youth ministry praise team, which has allowed many students the opportunity to experience a particular form of student leadership. That effort, however, was only the beginning step towards promoting and encouraging a new wave of student leadership within the ministry. As we’ve learned from experience, it’s important to be developing the next group of leaders BEFORE the current ones graduate. With that in mind, we have made it a priority to give some of our younger students opportunities to practice significant leadership roles right now, so that as they age and mature, they will grow into their potential.

IMG_4282If we fail to engage students in leadership opportunities when they enter the youth group as Middle Schoolers, we have no one to blame but ourselves if they get to be upperclassmen and feel completely unprepared when we ask them to “step up and set the example.” There’s no reason at all for gap years when it comes to serving in the church. This training and equipping process can begin much earlier and I deeply appreciate the way the Children’s Ministry works to give elementary students opportunities to practice leadership skills.

Increasingly, we have been using younger students to take lead, not only during worship, but in other aspects of our meeting time, as well. We’ve recently seen ninth graders Patrick Russell and Hannah Window – following the example set by senior Briggs Braswell – lead our praise team on Wednesdays, and several of the Middle School singers rotate through song-leading duties on Sunday mornings when our group is split. We are increasingly using students to lead games during both combined and separated gatherings. High School students have led Bible studies with their peers, and of course, February’s Martin Boyd Service provided an opportunity for many of our young men to gain experience leading an entire worship service.

IMG_4849Perhaps most significant to me, though, is what was recently asked of two of our 8th graders, Matt Stone and Andrew Reynolds. On two recent Sundays, rather than ask one of our more-than-capable adult volunteers to conduct our Middle School class, we decided to have students lead all aspects of the large-group gathering: game, worship, and teaching. It can be an intimidating thing to present a spiritual lesson in front of one’s peers, but both Matt and Andrew rose to the occasion and did wonderful jobs presenting their messages. They were thoughtful, well-prepared, and intent on delivering a quality speech. All the adults in the room were so proud, and it was encouraging to witness the cheers from their friends when they completed their lessons.

While it can be tempting to assume young people aren’t ready to take on some of the more demanding leadership roles within our church, the fact is, our kids are more capable than we often give them credit for, and more than that, the only way to improve is by doing. May we all come to an understanding that every investment we make in the spiritual leadership capabilities of our young people serves to bless the church today and far beyond. Today we invest in maturity for tomorrow.

 

 

Never Too Young to Start

The beauty of the discipleship path is that anyone of any age can begin at any time. Ideally, the discipleship path starts early in life. Such is the case with one of our 4th graders. Typically our 5th graders take the “up front” lead of songs, prayers, and coordinating younger kids for group activities. However, as soon as the last class of 5th graders moved up to 6th grade leaving a worship leader spot vacated, Luke Lusk jumped at the chance to lead worship.

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He not only knew all the songs, he was unafraid to sing in front of a crowd. How many adults hesitate to even stand in front of an audience much less sing with confidence? Of course, the old saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” may come in to play. If you know his dad or his grandfather, then his willingness to be a leader is not surprising.

I guess the lesson for all of us is that God gives us talents and it’s up to us to use them or ignore them. I know He is pleased when the gifts He has put in one of His children are used for the purpose He intended. Way to teach us all, Luke!