“Christ in Youth” Weeks Change Lives

by Dale Reeves
Story Pastor

Recently, our student pastor, Cody Scroggins, returned from two weeks of hanging out with our middle school and high school teens at Christ in Youth’s life-changing events. How would you describe those weeks? In Cody’s words: “WOW! That’s all I can say after coming home from these 5-day experiences that included amazing worship, engaging teaching, and tons of fun! I feel refreshed! The year 2020 robbed us of this amazing experience, but 2021 set us up for our future. Our students grew closer together, won no tournaments, but most importantly, grew closer with God.”

CIY provides these experiences all over the country and our high school students went to Bowling Green State University in Ohio for MOVE. Cody continues, “The facilities were amazing, the campus was beautiful, we did walk a lot, but it was worth it. A huge thank you goes out to all the parents who sent kids, sponsors who gave money, and all the prayers lifted up by our church! One of my favorite parts of CIY is working with an incredible team of leaders who pour into our students 24/7! They are just incredible; hear some of their stories!”

Wise Words from a Veteran
One of Cody’s rock-star youth leaders, Julie Smith, has been connected with Christ’s Church since 2001. She and her husband Pat were drawn to this church because of the vibrant children’s ministry they found here. Julie says, “I didn’t grow up in the church. When I was in the second grade, I went to a backyard VBS (Vacation Bible School) at a neighbor’s house and learned about Jesus. That is where the seed was planted for me and ever since then I have known God. I love being involved in student ministry because I feel it is all about planting and growing seeds both now and later on in students’ lives.” Julie has been a girls’ discipleship leader for a number of years and she has given of her time to attend CIY weeks with high schoolers for several summers in several states.

Thinking back on this year’s CIY MOVE experience, Julie chuckles, “A memorable highlight this year was the many miles we walked every day just to get to sessions. Bowling Green State University is a really long campus!” But it was all worth it, as she reflects, “This week is an intensive immersive experience in learning about Jesus and being a Christian, as well as learning what it means to be a kingdom worker. We talked about Jesus being the door to eternity with God. We had several students choose to walk through that door this week indicating a choice to be baptized or a choice to rededicate their lives to Jesus as young adults. It is an amazing bonding experience with fellow students and leaders as well as just a lot of fun. I can’t imagine anyone not growing in their faith and maturity from attending a week at CIY. For any student who hasn’t ever gone to a CIY event I would strongly recommend it.”

Reflections from a Few Rookies
Scott Hudspeth talks about how he got connected with the student ministry at Christ’s Church this year: “I started attending Christ’s Church three years ago and on the recommendation from several people, I signed up for the Rooted discipleship experience. That started the ball rolling in getting connected to people and programs, as well as service activities at the church. When Brad Wilson and some others asked for help last fall for the children’s and students’ ministries, I thought I might be able to help in some way. Cody Scroggins encouraged me to get plugged in with our 7th–12th grade students. Cody asked if I could go and help with MOVE, and I was able to get time off work for this. I had never experienced a week at CIY before. It was an exhausting week, but all of it very good.”

Scott reflects, “Even though we walked ten miles a day to all the activities, were up early, and to bed late, I never heard one complaint from our students. Our twenty-one high school students were constantly helping others in the group, volunteering for prayer, being inclusive of others, soaking up the teachings, and having a ton of fun. I have done a number of things over the years, but can’t say I have had a better time anywhere. Cody did a great job leading our students this week. Our students looked to him as their leader, responded well, and listened to what he had to say. The best laughs came in the times of walking from place to place, and while playing sports. Our kids are pretty good at killer dodgeball!”

Jenna Schnitker was brave enough to attend both CIY MIX with our middle schoolers AND CIY MOVE with our high school students! She says, “I started attending Christ’s Church in September of 2020. I was planning on moving to Ohio to be closer to work and had heard about Christ’s Church from a friend, so I decided to visit. I was impressed right away and decided to make it my new church home. I have always loved serving in high school/college ministry, so I knew it was something I wanted to get involved with as soon as possible. Since I was new to the church, I also thought serving would be a great way to meet other people. After attending Christ’s Church for a couple of months, I got connected with CC Students and started leading a group on Sunday mornings for the 11th and 12th grade girls.”

Jenna shares, “This was my first time ever attending CIY, and I’m really thankful I had the opportunity to attend both MIX and MOVE! I had a blast and loved getting to know the students and other leaders better. I can’t say enough about how fantastic Cody was in leading both events, and the other leaders were phenomenal as well. During my two weeks of CIY, I felt myself feeling less like someone just volunteering for a ministry and more like, ‘Wow, I’m really starting to feel like this is MY church now!’”

Life Changing
Jenna’s favorite part of CIY was having conversations, both funny and serious, with students and leaders. She says, “One of the middle schoolers was surprised to find out that I don’t have any cats because she said I ‘seem like a cat lady.’ I got a good chuckle out of that!” Jenna continues, “The conversations we had about Jesus were powerful and life-giving, and I walked away from both weeks feeling so encouraged. I was there to serve the students, but I found myself being challenged and changed by Jesus as well. In our small groups, students opened up and shared their hearts with each other, which was an amazing thing to see and experience.”

The life change goes deeper than just at the week of CIY. As Julie expresses, “My hope for our student ministry at Christ’s Church this year is continued growth in a number of students as well as growth in spiritual maturity and close bonding as a group. I want to see our students turn to their church group first when they need support, love, or affirmation. I wish for them lifelong relationships with the friends they make here.”

Jenna shares, “I would tell a student who has never been to CIY that they should definitely go next year! There is just something so powerful about being in a room full of students worshiping Jesus and learning more about him together. For the students who attended who don’t know Jesus yet, my prayer is that something they heard or experienced at CIY will draw them to him. God was definitely moving in the lives of our students at CIY, and I am so excited to see the work they are going to do for Christ’s kingdom.”

Scott concludes, “I have to say I was in tears a number of times throughout the week. I hope it is a launching point to help expand the group, and I pray that our students will take what they experienced into their homes and schools in the coming year.”

Loving Students Who Will Love Others
Cody summarizes, “CIY changes people’s lives. This year’s theme was ‘For ALL, FOREVER!’ Jesus is for us now, no matter what, and forever! We read through some stories in the Gospel of John. One of the Scripture passages that really challenged our students was John 13:34, 35, ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another’” (NIV).

“Loving students is the greatest calling for my life. . . . loving them through their TikTok videos, smelly BO, and their trauma. That’s my passion. I’m so glad that I spent two whole weeks this summer with middle school and high school students and got to watch them grow. Now that we’re back home, that growth continues. Students are no longer getting just three hours of sleep and eating bad dining food, but instead they are impacting Christ’s kingdom in their homes, schools, and communities. We need you, though! If you have this passion to love on students and want to get connected and serve with us, please email me at cody.scroggins@ourchristschurch.com! I can’t wait to see all that God has in store for CC Students!”

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