Pastor Kevin Redding
Adult Ministries Pastor, Shiloh Community Church
A few months ago, when I stepped back into helping oversee Student Ministries here at Shiloh, it was very much de-ja-vu. Ten years ago, when I transitioned from “Student Ministries” to “Adult Ministries”, I was convinced that my days of directly working with students were over. After-all, I was pushing 40, I had one child entering jr. high and one entering elementary school, and I was beginning to experience the fatigue of keeping up with the energy and trends of the student culture. Now, I’m pushing 50, have one child married and the other a couple years from finishing high school, and I’m experiencing the blessing of staying connected with the student culture thanks to my girls and leading our teams to Latvia each year.
A couple weeks ago I had coffee with a friend whom I’ve known since we both did youth ministry together 25 years ago. We have stayed connected and our ministry lives have been very similar during that time. Throughout the years, we have shared ministry tips and ministry stories with one another. He recently accepted a senior pastor position, and when we sat down for coffee he asked, “What’s new?”, My answer, “I’m living ‘Back to the Future’…I have my hands back in youth ministry.” He smiled (ok, maybe more like lol’d), and we began to talk ministry.
As we talked, we realized that student ministries today isn’t much different than student ministries 10 or 20 years ago. Students are looking for (1), a place to belong and experience community, (2) a place that the teaching of God’s Word is solid, relevant, and applicable to their lives, (3) a place to have fun, and (4) a place to know that they are cared for. Technology is different, the means of ministry are different, and the specific issues are different than years ago, but the needs are the same. Not only are the needs of students the same, but more importantly, the answers to those needs are the same. Those things that students are looking for are found in a community that is walking in obedience to the Word of God. Do we get it right all the time? Of course not. However, when we, as followers of Jesus, are committed to living out the proofs of discipleship (to abide/obey God’s Word; to bear fruit; to love others) and to make true, Christ-following disciples of others, all those needs are fulfilled.
As we talked, it became more and more obvious to both of us that these aren’t just needs of students, nor should they just be a priority for those who work with students. No, these are what everyone is looking for and should be a priority of each of us. So as I work with both youth and adults, I pray that I am helping each one to whom I minister to find a place of belonging and community. I pray that every time I teach, I’m teaching the Truth of God’s Word with relevance and application. I pray that I bring a little fun to all with whom I interact. I pray that you know that you are cared for and I am concerned for you. I know that if I am able to reflect these values, both youth and adults will grow and experience a deeper level of the love of God.
That is truly my prayer as I minister—25 years ago and today—that I can help each person effectively hear, know, understand, experience and apply God’s Word into their life.