Teens Today, Leaders TomorrowApril 2008
by Cregan Cooke
As Redeemer draws closer to its 20th anniversary, the youth ministry is noteworthy in light of the fact that it acts as a pipeline for developing tomorrow’s leaders for our church’s vision for the city. Although many in our congregation have little contact with the teens in our church, they are here every week —learning, serving and thriving in our congregation in meaningful life-shaping ways.
The church already enjoys the dividends of this energetic, inquisitive group in the form of young professionals who have captured the vision of Redeemer while they were here during their high school years and are now applying it as young professionals in their jobs after college. Over the past 10+ years dozens of graduates have passed through our youth group and some have returned from college to urban settings to be the doctors, pastors and lay leaders of the next generation serving as leaders in the Gospel movement of Redeemer.
Dr. Sylvia Kehlenbrink – (high school class of 1998) recently returned to NYC having completed medical school in Germany and is now an active member of our congregation again. “Being part of the youth group and two of its mission trips to Mexico and Japan radically influenced not only my relationship with God, but also shaped one of my life’s aspirations—to work internationally in the medical field. One of the most important and encouraging aspects of my experience has been the relationship with my youth leaders, who beautifully displayed the joy, love, and passion of Jesus and still to this day are important mentors to me.”
Isaac Lee – (high school class of 2002) has been working as a web programmer for a firm here in the city for 2 years and recently returned to the youth group as a lay leader for Jr. High guys.
Rev. Michael Keller – (high school class of 1998) was ordained by Southern New England Presbytery this past fall and is a pastor at CityLife Church in Boston. “As a teenager, youth group was one of the few places I experienced genuine love that came from relationships with committed leaders. In a transitional city like NYC, the love I experienced in those relationships was foundational to my life.”
Although it is difficult to measure the future effects on his or her life from a student’s participation in youth group, each of these “graduates” and many others like them had relevant Gospel experiences. Numerous conversations about their faith with leaders and peers magnified the importance of developing their personal faith and the over arching relevance of the Gospel in their lives. And now we see students returning as young professionals, realizing the vision God has for them influencing cities for His glory.
As the Jr. & Sr. High Student ministry continues to grow, it is exciting to recognize the tremendous potential it has and its significance in the ministry of Redeemer to the city.
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