It is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
Last weekend the Student Ministry went on our annual Winter Retreat over the three–day weekend. This is a trip that has been happening for at least 25+ years. In fact, I went on it when I was a student, back when it was called Ground Zero. This tradition has withstood the years and many different staff persons that have come and gone. I believe it continues to be a valued trip because the need for young people to get away from their daily lives (and their cell phones) and be renewed in their faith is so necessary. It’s a long weekend where students get to feel and know that they are fully loved by the adults on the trip, and more importantly, by our God.
This year we took several students that had never been on a church trip of any kind, a couple who had never done anything with a church before. There were three high schoolers that only a year ago barely wanted anything to do with us, but kept showing up to our church because we fed them and they had friends here. Then, days after we had closed registration for the trip, these same three students were begging to go. They went and experienced the love and forgiveness of Christ.
It was a complete joy for me to watch all the students that may be “unchurched” blend right into the “churched” students. Outsiders wouldn’t be able to tell the difference because the gospel is an equalizer. Through the gospel, we learn that we all fall short of the glory of God, and yet, we all are invited to be co-heirs with Christ. Because of this church, more and more students are hearing and receiving that invitation to be a co-heir.
I have had several students tell me that they know they can safely invite their friends to come to our church. Friends that don’t look the part of church people or are openly anti-religion. They invite them because they know this is a safe place, full of people that will love their friends with open hearts and make them feel like they are home. You, my family, make students feel at home in a setting where they would normally feel like an outsider. Thank you! Please keep being Jesus to the students you see so that they, too, can feel like they are home and hear the invitation of Christ.