Another exciting addition to Awaken: AWAKEN STUDENTS

You don’t have to be old to love Jesus.

That’s the basic thought behind our newest addition to Awaken Church, Awaken Students (an extension of Awaken Groups).

Youth ministry is nothing new to me. I’ve been going to summer camps since I was old enough to go. When I was about 15, God grabbed me at a summer camp and never let go. We got back home, and since our church was small and didn’t have a youth pastor, we decided to start up our own youth group (which, by the way, is still going today – I’m designing t-shirts for them soon!). That’s where it all began for me. From there, I went on to run the Bible Club at my high school, go to School of Ministry after high school, then go on to be the Middle School Youth Pastor at Calvary Albuquerque. Needless to say, youth ministry played a big role in who I am today.

Awaken Students isn’t a youth group.

I’ve been asked if that’s what this would eventually grow into. Probably not. I see a deeper value in taking a different approach than what might be considered “the norm” for reaching teenagers for Christ.

One unique thing about Awaken is that we have such a broad mix of ages. We have grandparents all the way down to 6th graders worshiping together. In fact, on Sunday, 2 of the 4 people who gave their lives to Christ or recommitted their lives to Him were students (14 and 17 years old)! Here’s the idea behind Awaken Students…

We want students, from the time they graduate out of Awaken Kids and hit 6th grade, to begin worshiping, studying, and applying God’s Word with the rest of us. By providing that opportunity, as well as outlets for them to serve and get together in small groups, we’re training them how to involve themselves in the body of Christ. By the time they graduate high school, hopefully it is ingrained in their brains that part of being in the body of Christ is worshiping through singing, studying the Word, serving, giving, and being part of a small group.

Pies, Ketchup, and Truth or Dare

Youth groups have the unfortunate reputation for being a place where students can go for “Christian entertainment.” Whether you’re 16 or 60, you are BOMBARDED with entertainment throughout the week! What students (as well as the rest of the body of Christ) really need are real, genuine, Christ-centered relationships outside of the church walls. Entertainment is everywhere; genuine relationships are not.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with a pie in the face or some ketchup-smothered eating challenges every once in a while, but that’s not what Awaken Students is centered on.

That said, Awaken Students isn’t sans-fun. In fact, we have an exciting announcement coming tomorrow night at Awaken about an event we have coming up just for the students of Awaken! Rest assured, Awaken Students will be everything but boring.

Walking out Christianity

We want student to develop real, genuine, Christ-centered relationships. We want to see students grow deep in their walks with Christ from a very young age. That doesn’t mean boring, stale group therapy sessions. That means being real with each other – talking openly and honestly about what’s going on. We all need that at every age and every stage along the way.

How it works

Awaken Students works a little differently from the rest of Awaken Groups. They will be discussing the Sunday message, like many of the other groups, but the students group will be an OPEN group. That simply means that we won’t be putting a limit of how many students can come to it – it will remain open for them to invite friends. Awaken Students will be meeting at the church on Sunday evenings at 6:30pm to discuss the content of the Sunday message. They’ll be split up into gender- and age-appropriate groups with leaders for the discussion and prayer. Like the other groups, they will also have 8 weeks of discussion, 1 week of community outreach, and 1 week of fun/hangout each trimester.

Awaken Students meets Sun, March 6-May 8. Students can sign up for the group beginning TOMORROW – Wed, Feb 23 at 6pm!

Keep up with Awaken Students on Twitter, Facebook, and at AwakenGroups.org.

If your student attends Awaken, or is simply looking for a great place to connect with other students, this is the place!

I married my best friend

I know it sounds like something you’re supposed to say: “I married my best friend,” but for me, it’s true. I really did.

I met Jenn at a summer camp that I worked at in the summer of 2002. I walked in as she and the worship team were warming up for worship that night, and I was hooked. Not only was she beautiful, but so was her voice! I made it a point to “casually” hang out with her that week and get to know her a bit. I had no idea what the future held!

We ended up at the same church together while I attended the School of Ministry. She worked on staff and she “just so happened” to run into me every once in a while. I ended up volunteering for a concert that she was running, and that was the weekend that clinched it. Not only was she beautiful, fun to hang out with, and loved the Lord, but she also loved Mexican food. She had to be the one!

I had regrets from past relationships when I met Jenn, and I purposed from the start that this one would be different. I didn’t want to waste her time or mine, and I didn’t need my heart broken or to feel the guilt of breaking someone else’s heart. So I prayed. A lot. I told God that I didn’t want to waste our time together, and that if she wasn’t the one, to please let me know NOW. However, I also prayed that if she was the one for me, that God would confirm it to me. Every time I prayed that prayer, I felt like God was saying, “I am confirming it.”

Every time we got together was a joy. We often met at a restaurant before church and talked about what God had been teaching us that week. At the time, I played bass in a band, so I ended up playing bass with Jenn as she led worship for the middle school and high school youth groups at church.

On December 19, 2002, I asked her to be my wife. From our first date, we made a decision to save our first kiss for our wedding day. By God’s grace, we pulled it off, and on November 7, 2003, we shared our very first kiss EVER right after we said our vows! It was so worth the wait!

Little did I know that when I said my vows that day, not only was I marrying my best friend, but also my prayer partner, my biggest support, my encourager, and the worship leader of our future church! God knew, but I had no idea!

Here goes another cliche – are you ready? I can honestly say that I love her more today than I did 7 years ago when I married her. I know, I know, it sounds like something I’m supposed to say. I can assure you that I feel no pressure to say it – it’s true. I know her better today than I did 8 years ago when we met, and although she has her flaws, her strengths and inner (and outer) beauty outshine them all! The amazing thing is that she’s put up with me for this long!

It truly is a privilege to be married to a woman like Jenn who is there to encourage me and keep me in line, and whose love for Jesus pushes me to love Him more as well. I couldn’t ask for anything more in a wife or the mother of our children.

Jenn, I love you. Here’s to 77 more years (yes, that means we’d be 104 years old, but I’m ok with that!)!

Maybe we’d look like this?