Over the next few weeks, I’ve asked several members of our team at The Austin Stone to write about how missional communities integrate with some of their areas of ministry. To start with, my friend (and former intern!) Scott Frazier wrote a series on Student Ministry and Missional Communities. You can find more about our Student Ministry here.
- Student Ministry and Missional Communities
- Student Ministry Gatherings
- Student Ministry and LTGs
- Student Ministry and Third Place
- Student Ministry and Volunteer Missional Communities
Student Ministry Gatherings
In my last post I gave an overarching view of our student ministry at the Stone. I stated that we believe that our role is to “equip parents who will disciple their kids and disciple kids whose parents won’t”. Todd has written extensively about incorporating children into the life of your missional community and I briefly touched on how we strive to equip our parents.
Yet, how do we functionally operate as a student ministry?
Sunday Morning Gatherings
Since we are a mobile, multi-site church, we gather our students for worship, teaching and fellowship on Sundays at every campus during our 11:15 service. Why 11:15 you ask? Great question. Since most teenagers are a terror to try and get out of bed on a weekend and since we desire parents to keep their sanity during the process, we deduced that 11:15 would allow enough time for families with older kids to make it to service without killing one another!
I know your also thinking, “Hold on…no Wednesday night gatherings with pizza before hand?” First, to assuage your food worries and concerns, we have found a better substitute for pizza. Since our ministry is located in Austin, Texas we provide breakfast tacos. There is a breakfast taco restaurant every few miles and it is food group in and of itself here! All joking aside, we chose Sunday’s because we desire our students’ week to be freed up so that they can integrate with their family’s missional community and be involved in a discipleship community. Our desire was to be less programmatic and more relational.
Teaching & Discussion
Our Sunday gatherings consist of worship, teaching and discussion groups. The teaching is aligned with the preaching from the main pulpit so that we can help cultivate conversation between parents and their kids once they leave service. This provides a common language as parents continue in their call to disciple their children.
Not only do we align teaching, but we also provide a space for discussion groups for our students after the teaching. After many sermons where I would ask the kids what I taught on last week and there would be no response I figured something needed to change. Now, after each teaching we allow space for our students to converse with their leaders and each other.
We usually revolve conversation around two simple questions:
- What is God showing you?
- What are you going to do about it?
Lastly, Sunday is a great space to assimilate kids into your ministry. It gives us a space where we can meet families, get kids connected to discipleship communities, and let them know what events are coming up. I strongly believe there is still a seat at the table for students to gather together even within the missional framework. Students need to be in a space where there is common social fabric.
Gathering together allows our students a place to know others and be known by others. It allows them a space to invite their friends to hear Christ proclaimed and start gospel conversations. It also allows kids with no strong parental support a place a familial stability.
What role do you think gatherings play in student ministry?