by Phil Bell of Life Church in Canton, MI.
I have been at my present church for nearly 3 years now and it has been a great journey to watch the church and youth ministry grow deep and wide. When I arrived, the church was a 3 year old plant with a very small youth ministry that consisted of a handful of middle school students meeting in a basement of a house and a few high school students meeting for lunch after church. (This was quite a new challenge from my previous well established churches). My position called for me to create and develop a healthy youth ministry program from scratch… In this situation, it’s been imperative to adopt a deep and wide philosophy for three main reasons:
1) The Deep and Wide Vision is Biblical. When we were starting from scratch it was essential to be able to get people on board with a vision that could be trusted (Biblical and not the latest fad). Students, parents and leaders needed to be able to clearly see the ‘why’ behind the ‘what we do’. So many people have been ‘clouded’ by many fads, ideas and ‘old school’ youth ministry philosophies from previous churches and ministries. It’s been valuable to bring people back to the ‘Biblical Basics’.
2) The Deep and Wide Process is Simple: In the past three years we have adopted a simple ‘process phrase’ that allows anyone to understand what we do and how we do it. Our student ministry process is for students is to “KNOW God passionately; GROW deeper in Him, and to GO into the world to share Him with others”. The environments we offer students focus on this simple process. Yes, we have events. Yes, we have missions’ trips etc. However, the nuts and bolts of what we offer to students is to KNOW, GROW and GO. We try to keep it simple! In the past I have seen a number of great ideas and philosophies that seem great, but they have been developed by larger ministries who are well resourced. It has not always been easy for the ‘average’ church to adopt. Deep and Wide keeps it Biblical and simple for anyone…
3) The Deep and Wide Philosophy Works! Just yesterday I was shocked and excited by a student who is looking at colleges and live and study locally because he is so passionate about our ministry and can’t stand the idea of leaving yet. This student has been with us since I arrived and has become an integral part of our student worship team. He is someone who has taken some huge steps in his faith; he serves every week, and is consistently bringing friends to our environments. It is students like this who have been a part of seeing our student ministry grow in depth and width. We have seen a great number of students commit their lives to Jesus for the first time and it is these same students who are growing, leading and driving much of what we do. Deep and Wide works!
Pastor of Student Ministries