We are a ministry that reaches out to 7th, 8th, and 9th graders. What we are ultimately doing is to obey the commands of Jesus. The new commandment that Jesus gives in John 13:34-35 is to love one another just as Jesus had loved us. By this, everyone will know that we are his disciples, if we have love for one another. Well... what does love look like?
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient, love is kind, love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it i snot irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
We want to plant seeds of the gospel in the hearts of our students. We also want to create a community and a safe space to allow students to put into practice the gospel and encourage them to live out the gospel in their everyday lives.
Why this particular group of students for us? The people that particularly serve in this ministry know that the Junior High age is the ignored and marginalized age group. It is the group where people are not young enough to be merely kids, but not old enough to be adults. It is probably one of the hardest groups to love. It is a very confusing time for these students. It is a time in a person's life when they will begin to challenge what they know and challenge authority. While pushing back authority and truth, they are also at one of the most impressionable times of their lives. The temptation to live like the rest of the world, to do what's easiest, and to do what pleases them the most on a temporary basis will be the powers and principalities that we fight against.
In the midst of all that is going on in the world and in our own lives, we want these students to know that Christ loves us and died for us even when we were still sinners. Many of us that serve in Imago Dei began to experience Christ's love for the first time during the same age group. It was the love that was poured into us when we were youngsters that changed us and we want to continue to pass this love on so that we can obey this new command that Jesus gives to us.
We have corporate worship to act as a body of Christ, which glorifies God first and foremost and emphasize that God is above all and God is the reason for everything and that God is love.
We also want to show through our actions and teachings (like Jesus did), that this group is loved. Although we, as leaders, are not perfect and will make mistakes, we will do our best to show Jesus' model of love in this ministry. This is mainly done through small groups. Jesus began with a group of twelve. Through this group of twelve people, he changed the world. During small groups we allow students to engage in open conversations about life and fundamental teachings about Scripture through Pastor Joe's sermons.
Small groups are also essential because it is the only way we can ensure deep personal Christ-centered relationships. I cannot have a deep relationship with 150 students. However, I can handle up to maybe twelve. That's what Jesus did. So we will try to do the same. Through these relational groups we will try to connect with these students. We will do our best to be a mentor and guide in life and be there through happiness as well as pain.
We will do our best to love one another as Jesus loved us.