A Note from Chris September 2, 2021

To say that the influence of my home church’s student ministry guided my young Christian faith would be a severe understatement. My small, Virginia church hired a full-time youth minister the summer before my 5th grade year, and a couple of years later, that same youth minister baptized me into Christ. He and other leaders discipled me in Jesus week by week and year by year. When he moved to TN, God provided another youth minister and other key youth leaders who continued to pour into my life, encouraged me to use my gifts, provided outlets for me to reach my friends, and nudged me toward God’s calling for me in ministry.

My family was fantastic, my resolve was strong, but it was my student ministry family that was an absolute immovable rock in my life in middle school and high school. The same was true for dozens of other kids at our little church. It was far from perfect, but it was the outlet we needed to supplement the faith in our homes to help us learn to take faith seriously ourselves.

God used those critical years to form something in me beyond just personal faith, as I then pursued education and later spent 15 years serving full-time in student ministry. I love you all, and I really, really love my job and calling, but nothing can touch student ministry. It is perhaps the most critical, most life-altering, and most inspiring ministry in the church. I am so thrilled that our weekly student ministry programs are kicking back off this coming week, and I’m asking you to both pray and contribute!

If you have kids or grand-kids in 6-12th grades, please work hard to prayerfully prioritize getting them involved in our student ministry family. It’s not a club or a team; it’s a lifeline in a crazy world filled with some challenging worldviews and emotional hurdles.

HSM (High School Ministry) and Middle School Reach relaunch at both campuses this coming week, first at Shiloh on Wednesday, September 8th from 6:15-8:00p and then on Sunday evening September 12th from 6:15-8:00p at the O’Fallon Campus (YMCA).

Both Middle School and High School Ministry will meet on campus at the same time but will have age-focused programming each Wednesday/Sunday. Each week, their ministry will include large group activities, worship, a challenging message, and small break out groups for our students to be known personally and engage the Bible with leaders.

Please pray for our staff, our volunteer leaders, our ministry residents, as well as the families who are contemplating participating, but haven’t made it a fixture on the family calendar just yet. And if you are in this life stage, please find a way to make engaging your student with their peers a high priority this fall.

Regarding masks: As you are aware of the Illinois mask mandate, our staff will once again be wearing masks while on either campus and in proximity with others. In relation to worship or other programming, mask wearing is requested beginning this Sunday. I hope to see you there, as I’m teaching what I believe is an incredibly timely and relevant message about conflict from Matthew 18. See you Sunday!

Yours & His,
Chris VandeLinde

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