Even during of one of the most challenging times in Willow’s history, God’s hand has been evident in Student Impact, just in time for the school year to start. Less than three weeks ago at our Sandblast summer camp, God used scripture and community to remind high schoolers that He is the one who can break every chain that might hold them back, and students made bold declarations to walk close to Him!
And those decisions have fueled the way that students are engaging in our church during this time. In the midst of senior leadership changes at Willow, high schoolers organized a prayer time for our church—and scores of kids showed up to ask God to lead our church clearly into the future.
Then this past weekend, as Steve Gillen stepped into the role of acting senior pastor in the adult church service, Student Impact redesigned their scheduled program to create space for students to respond. Students spent last Sunday praying to God, singing to God, and reminding themselves that He is still at the helm. It was a highly interactive service, as students wrote emotions on post-it notes and stuck them to the windows of the Lakeside auditorium, as a way of trusting God with what they were feeling. They wrote bold prayers for the future of Willow Creek on more post-it notes, believing that Jesus’s life-changing love does have the power to change things. And they stuck those prayers on the windows too, in the middle of all the emotions. Prayers for unity, for our pastors to make the best decisions, and prayers that other students wouldn’t lose hope in a confusing time.
“I think my favorite part was watching students gather up across the auditorium to pray with their House Groups,” said Scott Rubin, director of Student Ministries. "Students huddled in groups representing high schools across Chicagoland, asking God to foster the kind of communities that reflect real love. They asked for help in creating places where their friends could be welcomed, where everyone would be accepted right where they’re at, and where encouragement would flow. It was a beautiful picture of unity—and radiated hope in the future!"
This blog wouldn’t be complete, though, if we didn’t extend an invitation to anyone with a heart for high schoolers. There’s a misconception that you need to be “early 20’s and super-cool” to be helpful to high schoolers, and that’s simply not true! If you have energy, a heart for teenagers, and an ability to engage, consider emailing [email protected] to ask about what it takes to lead a small group. We still need adult leaders as this school year begins; we’ll provide all the training you need.
High schoolers were at the epicenter of Willow Creek’s inception, and God’s still very much at work in our teenagers right now!
Student Impact launches House groups and small group at 11:15 a.m. this Sunday, August 19. Learn more about Student Impact here.