Grace Students: God is Working
In late February of this year, Grace Students had a fun, “normal,” weekend retreat at Doe River Gorge. We called it “Imago Dei,” a Latin phrase that means “the image of God.” We split up the boys and girls at this retreat and were able to focus the entire weekend on what it means to be a man or woman made in the image of God. It was an incredible weekend. That retreat, which now feels like it happened a lifetime ago, was the last time that student ministry at Grace Fellowship Church looked anything like what’s “normal.” Since then, Grace Students has looked very different.
From March to July, we were exclusively online. I still think back to our regular team meetings and all the times we had to wipe our plans off the calendar. All of the events, retreats, and service projects that we had planned for the rest of the spring and summer continued to dissolve. I’ll be honest, it was a difficult time for me personally, and I know it was hard for the Grace Students team as well. Questions like, “How can God be working when we keep having to cancel things?” and “What are we going to do next?” were regular parts of our conversations. It was a confusing, uncertain, and often discouraging time for student ministry. But God was going to work.
Through our time online, we expanded our reach on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube dramatically. This was always something we wanted to focus on, but never something that really could be focused on when “normal,” in person programming was happening every week. In April, over 40 students read through the entire book of John through a “chapter a day” initiative we started on Facebook and Instagram. Later in the spring, students were able to watch and listen as several of our staff members prayed through a “prayer point” initiative, also started on Facebook and Instagram. As spring became summer, Grace Students continued to engage parents and students through “ministry minutes,” funny and engaging videos, weekly online Sunday night programming, and more. Student ministry certainly looked different. But God was working.
In August, we received permission from church leadership to begin meeting onsite again. While gathering in person has brought back some sense of normalcy, even meeting in person has looked drastically different than what it used to. Masks and social distancing are required, games and worship look different, and many other aspects of our weekly meetings have been tweaked to keep things as clean and safe as possible. As a ministry, we were very worried that students would think the different onsite gatherings were “lame” and not worth their time. But week after week, students have shown up to have fun with their friends, learn from their small group leaders, and ultimately grow in their faith in God. God is working.
I know that in your life, things have looked different. Circumstances for you have been anything but “normal.” But I hope you know that despite all of the changes, despite all of the uncertainty, despite all of the frustration, God is and always will be working. Take heart in that today.
Blake Tyree, Student Pastor