Serving in a Kids Ministry that Shaped Me
October 31, 2023
Plainfield Christian Church has played a big role in my life. I grew up in a Christian home and my parents took us to church regularly. We started attending the church early in my elementary school years and I remember growing up in the different youth programs. While my parents encouraged our faith at home, I realized that Sunday School and Wednesday night church were also an important part of growing my faith and Bible knowledge. There were so many faithful teachers who loved God and knew his love for us and wanted to share His love with the youth.
My most memorable years of being involved in the youth programs were middle school and high school. I was a homebody growing up so most of my middle school church experiences took place in the Sunday school class with Dave and James. They made class fun, but more importantly, they did a good job of teaching us the Bible and the principles that it instills. I still remember having time for prayer requests and the emphasis that they put on having empathy when praying for others. They set an example of faith and the importance of sharing faith with others through service.
I did not go to Camp Allendale often growing up and only went on a couple of retreats in middle school. Although, the couple I went on were great experiences even if I felt uneasy at times being away from home. I remember the kindness of the leaders on those trips and some of the conversations that I had with them. Camp was yet another example of faithful people taking time out of their busy schedules to share the love of God that they knew, hoping the students would experience that same love, and that it would change their life as it did theirs.
Adult volunteer leaders are an important part of youth ministry, but the youth ministers are the ones who organize and coordinate the efforts of the volunteers. That coordination is vitally important in affecting the lives of students. I have fond memories of the relationships and conversations that I had through the years with Brian and Trish and Josh and Becky. Even though youth ministers are on staff their efforts can't be overstated.
Transitioning into high school I started to come out of my shell a little more and had the opportunity to experience a Christ in Youth Conference and many of the high school retreats. Those were some of the most memorable experiences in high school and they helped to grow my faith. These memories included time hanging out with other students, building friendships, playing games, worshiping God, and discussions about God allowing us to learn and understand more about him. All of these great experiences played a critical role in helping to build the foundation for my faith that ultimately led me to get baptized halfway through my junior year.
Again, in those times of fun, I realized the importance of having adult leaders who were faithful to serve. Every single one of these leaders is important, whether they directly impacted me or not because I wasn't the only student there. Collectively, their efforts affected every student on those trips making an impact on multiple lives.
Following my baptism, I dove deeper into the youth group, started going to Sunday nights, and getting involved in D-Groups. These actions gave me a springboard to carry my faith into college where I continued to grow. My faith truly became my own when I was in college where I came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. Even while in college, God provided faithful mentors that continued to pour into me.
After college, I moved back home and got involved with the college and young adult groups. I started leading a home group, which helped me to feel more confident. That led me to try teaching elementary school students coming full circle by following in the footsteps of those adult volunteers who went before me. Not doing so out of an obligation, but out of my love for God and what he has done for me. I want to share that truth with the next generation.
As time has gone on the opportunity to work with the high school youth group presented itself and I have stepped into that role, remembering the impact the adult leaders had in my life and the lives of other high school students. I want to do the same for these high school students.
Getting to know the students is a joy and my hope is that one day they will be able to give back to the next generation sharing the love of our savior. I appreciate the opportunities that God has given me to volunteer with the youth at Plainfield Christian Church. It is a cyclical motion, one generation teaching the next, and it truly does take a village. We can't impact every student as an individual, but when we have multiple people working together the reach is much wider.
If there is one thing that I have learned in my years going through the youth group and volunteering now it is the importance of volunteers. There are a lot of needs when it comes to youth ministry and it's the faithful volunteers who provide the support to the youth ministers. They could not accomplish what they do without volunteers, and I would highly encourage anyone who has never had the opportunity to give it a try. It is a powerful thing, especially as you see the students grow.
- Wade Banning, Volunteer in Student Ministry