Honoring Our 2020 Grads: Simply Being the Church
by Dale Reeves
This past weekend I got to ride along in the church’s party bus as student pastors Cody Scroggins and Brianna Brotzman led our youth leaders in an afternoon of celebrating Christ’s Church 2020 high school graduates. We drove to the homes of fifteen grads (and still have three more to honor, since they were out of town on Saturday, and missed out on our epic celebrations.) We logged a few miles over the course of the afternoon as we traversed a number of neighborhoods making our way to the homes of grads from six local high schools—Mason, Kings, Little Miami, Lakota West, Hamilton Fenwick, and Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy.
Cody shares the reason behind the celebration this past Saturday: “Because of the COVID-19 virus, there hasn’t been a lot for these students to celebrate. They missed out on proms, senior achievement assemblies, spring sports seasons, concerts, school plays, and all the other things that should accompany the end of their senior year in high school. Just to see the joy on the faces of students and parents was definitely worth it!”
When we arrived at the driveway or front porch of each graduate, Brianna made sure that each and every girl heard the song “Dancing Queen” or “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”; and each guy heard “Let’s Hear It for the Boy.” Thanks for allowing those songs to be in my head when I went to sleep Saturday night! Youth leader Julie Smith was the official launcher of each confetti party popper. We presented each graduate with a diploma, some quality reading material, and a little candy to celebrate this achievement. Along the way, the youth leaders kept their strength up by chowing down on a few pizzas. What else do committed youth workers eat???
Julie reflects on the day: “I love being the church. Yesterday was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate our high school seniors on their own turf. Graduate emotions ranged from embarrassment to joy to uncontrollable tears. Between the graduates, their families, and us as youth leaders, we were all affected by this simple act of celebrating our amazing kids.”
Her husband Pat, who has worked with all ages of kids at Christ’s Church, adds, “This was a needed and timely event to celebrate the kids but also their families as well. I do feel like this should be an annual event from here on. I saw excitement on the faces of the students and their parents.”
Our newest staff member at Christ’s Church, Brianna Brotzman, reflects, “These students have accomplished a really special thing and I’m so glad we got to celebrate with them! Being intentional and present in the lives of students is so important.”
Mick Kowitz has poured many hours into working with our student worship band as well as his guys’ discipleship group, and we are grateful for his consistent service in student ministry. He states, “I was amazed at how grateful the families were that we love their kids enough to meet them at their homes. I believe that taking the church to our families is what Jesus wants us to do, and that it demonstrates Christlike love. We want to let people know that God loves them as much outside the building as inside the church walls.”
One of our awesome girls’ small group leaders, Lisa Hardwick, shares, “Saturday was an example of the church being the hands and feet of Jesus in this really weird world of 2020. It was wonderful to affirm each student individually: We as the church love you and your family, we care about the details of your future, and we will not forget about you once you leave student ministry. The church is here for the long haul.” She observes, “I saw each student laugh. That may have been the only laughter they had that day, week, or month. How beautiful it is to see the church bring true joy to God’s children during a time of global crisis. It’s not complicated, and that’s what I love about HSM. We can simply be real, show up, and make a difference.”
Cody affirms that thought, “We were able to encourage our seniors who have reached a huge milestone in their lives. One of the parents said to me, ‘You have no idea what this means to my daughter in a time of just being stuck at home.’”
Eileen Leek is a parent of teens and a leader of a girls’ small group. She shares these observations from the event: “This day was impactful . . . not just for our seniors and their families, but for us. Us, the church. I watched student after student get embarrassed, get excited, cry hysterically, and honestly be confused (we woke a few of them up!). One family in particular stuck out to me. I had never seen the parents or met the student, but they responded to our social media announcement asking parents of seniors if they wanted their child to be recognized. As we pulled up to the house, the mom met us at the door. We explained who we were and why we were at their house and then we observed the girl expressing sheer excitement. The student came running out the door, ran straight into Brianna’s arms and began crying. Mom was crying too, Brianna was emotional, and I was just awestruck. We were the church at that moment. We were Jesus with skin on. We loved on a family and a student and were able to celebrate this student’s special occasion in a special way.”
Eileen concludes, “I walked away from that house refreshed, thanking God for smacking me upside the head and reminding me of why we were out celebrating the students. We were being the church. We touched a family in a way that we may never know but what a great reminder that the church is not the building on Western Row Rd., church is the heartbeat inside each and every one of us. We, as the church, MUST meet people where they are—no matter where they are.”
“All the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:25-27, NLT).
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10, ESV).