Photo by Justin Jaro.
Today's guest blogger is Matthew Deprez. Matthew serves as the Now Generation Pastor at Frontline Community Church in Grand Rapids, MI and was part of the 2010 Sticky Faith Cohort.
In February, our church attended the first of two Sticky Faith Learning Cohort “summits.” It was a life-changing experience for our team. During one session, Dr. Scott Cormode talked about vision. He defined vision as “shared stories of future hope.” One of the assignments we were required to do was write two “success stories” about students in our program over the course of the next two years.
We wrote one about a student named Kathryn, and another about Kyle. They are both written after real students who attend our program on a regular basis. Over the next few months something happened in my heart that I wasn’t expecting. I couldn’t get the stories out of my head. The stories wrecked me. Every time I saw Kathryn or Kyle, I thought about the stories. Almost four months later, I called Kathryn and talked with her about her story. I read it to her and waited for her to tell me it was creepy. Her reaction was quite the opposite. Instead, she told me how inspired she was, and how much it encouraged her that people were thinking about her and took her seriously.
This is where we had the idea to take these “stories” one step further. In June we met as an adult leadership team, and each small group leader wrote one story about a student in their small group. It wrecked the small group leaders. Then we started wondering what would happen if students defined their own stories of life change? What if every student attending our program took time to write a story of future hope? And what would happen if they shared those stories of future hope with each other? It got us really excited!! In July, while our students were attending our annual Summer camp, we made it a reality. Students took time to write their own stories of future hope and shared them with their peers. We had students committing to go into full-time ministry, leading other friends to Christ, and bringing their unchurched families to our church. The students dreamed bigger than I ever imagined!!
We’ve decided to center everything we do as a student ministry around these stories of future hope for 2012. It will become the foundation for each student that attends our program. Each week, one or two students will share their stories of future hope to everybody else in attendance! It’s as if these students are writing their own discipleship program right in front of our very eyes - and it’s beautiful. We’ve even processed what would happen if every small group leader wrote a story about every student in their small group, and every student wrote a story of future hope about their leader! When I told our senior pastor what we were doing, he immediately started thinking about how our entire church could participate in something like this! The opportunities are endless. What I’ve realized is that students are learning what it means to dream in enormous ways about their relationship with Jesus, and it’s challenging an entire church to dream about their own relationship with Jesus.
That’s a story of future hope.