As a college Freshman, I brought some of my newfound friends back to my hometown for the Homecoming game. Both came from much larger suburban contexts. At halftime of the game they began the festivities of introducing the Homecoming Court. I distinctly remember, as the Freshman attendant was being introduced one of my friends looked at me dumbfounded and asked, "Did they just announce what church she goes to?"
"Ya, of course they did. That's what you do for Homecoming," I responded.
The other friend chimed in, "No 'they' don't, Derry. I've never heard of that happening."
Go most places outside of our region, and you will discover it is NOT the norm. The reality is that our communities are filled with churches and people that will claim a home church. This is a great blessing. Yet, when it comes to the spiritual formation for teens, the blessing can easily become a curse.
The problem is that everyone claims a home church, yet not everyone is dedicated to attending that church. Moreover, there is a general mentality that since everyone claims a home church, everyone in our community must be a Christian. I mean, of course, there are "those people," the small minority who are blatantly athiest or the town misfit, but we should just avoid them. For the most part we are communities with good people from good families with good morals, right? The trick is that there is a MAJOR difference between good and Godly. At NMC Student Ministries, we call this the difference between religion and relationship.
In 2004, the Student Ministries staff sat down and tried to define what our primary purpose was as a ministry. We looked at everything we do, everything we wanted to accomplish, and most important the main things that God has called us toward, and we came up with a simple statement...
NMC STUDENT MINISTRIES EXISTS TO MOVE STUDENTS FROM RELIGION TO RELATIONSHIP TO SPIRITUALLY REPRODUCING.
To break it down, we want to see students move past wearing the label Christian, relying on their parents faith or a prayer prayed as a child, and into a meaningful journey with Jesus that is infiltrating their hearts and impacting how they live TODAY. The God of the Bible is a relationship God, since the fall of man seeking to bring his creation/ his children back to Him. He wants relationship with us. And here's the extra cool part, he wants those of US in that relationship to introduce those who aren't to this life-changing Jesus.
RELIGION to RELATIONSHIP to SPIRITUALLY REPRODUCING.
- Our primary goal is not to make your kid perfect. Our goal is to introduce them to the Perfect One who will meet them in their imprefection.
- We aren't out to modify your kid's bad behavior. We're here to help them encounter a Jesus who can bring dead things to life.
- We don't just fill a calendar to keep kids busy. Everything we do is an effort to push toward our goal.
- We don't want your kids to live a safe life. We want your kids to encounter a life of significance that this world may label as "radical" or "intolerant" or "freakish."
- We want what you want... for your students to experience the best life possible on this earth, and that is only found in knowing Christ (Phil. 3:8) and making Him known (Matthew 28:18-20)