youth in church

Us Decreasing, God Increasing

By Emily Kusunoki, Ministry Resident

This season for the AR Students is all about John 3:30. Here, we are told we must decrease so that HE can increase. Nevertheless, do our words and our bible studies really follow our actions? Do we live as if we know truth, or do we live like we know the rules of truth? These are questions we ponder while Kelly, Kevin and I plan for our Wednesday night Breakaway services. Whether these questions have a clear answer is a different story.

The first few Wednesdays were rough when Kevin and I stepped up into leadership. Adjusting to the culture of the group, the routines, and even seeing so many new faces was a challenge. Yet all those things faded with time. What didn’t fade was the need for the students to have a relationship with Christ—a raw, personal relationship away from church. That’s been a need we pray for each and every week since the very beginning.

That’s why a specific instance in one of our Bible studies really moved me, without the student even realizing. We were talking about the purity that exist in a Holy God, and how this purity is such a contrast to our fallen world.

“Oh, like what it says in John 15,” the student said, and then started to quote multiple verses almost fully by memory from the chapter. John 15 talks about how the Father is the gardener, who cuts off every branch in us that bears no fruit. It reads, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you,” so her interpretation was spot on! Not only had she been reading the Bible on her own, she was memorizing and absorbing the same message every week at home.

Our reply, of course, was curious excitement. “HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT?” we asked. We tend to have an intense reaction to any active participation with God outside church for any of our youth. She proceeded to tell us about a service where Pastor Dave ripped out pages of the Bible and then told the congregation to pick up those pages, meditating on the verses as if they were the only parts of the Bible they had. Her page was John 15.

Now, such excitement over one student learning a passage in the Bible may seem like a little bit of an overreaction. But there is a serious thirst in all youth that goes far beyond just learning the stories of the Bible or remembering songs from their old Sunday school classes. Seeing Jesus as a friend who is on their side is a game changer. So too is seeing the Bible as more than a rulebook. In middle or high school, relationships seem like a kid’s entire purpose for existence. How different would they feel if they knew they already had a perfect relationship with someone who loves them endlessly and unconditionally??? We often don’t even feel that way with our own parents, let alone the Creator of the Universe.

For these reasons, I’m encouraged by our girl who took the time to meditate and internalize the encouragement of Jesus. She is one step closer to a personal, prayerful relationship to the greatest person to ever know her so completely.

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