In the Bible, there’s a story about a crowd of 5,000 that gathered around Jesus to listen to him teach. People grew hungry as the day went on, but there wasn’t enough food to feed a crowd of that size.
Jesus took the little food that they had, only five loaves of bread and two fish, and miraculously multiplied it. Scripture tells us that everyone was fed not just a small portion, but until they were satisfied.
While this story happened years ago, it so perfectly reflects a spiritual hunger we are seeing in our youth today. They are hungry for more of God, asking questions and looking for answers.
As church leaders, we hold the key to empowering the next generation and activating their faith. We know a God that satisfies the deepest longing of their hearts. There is a huge opportunity in front of us to reach the students in our communities, and we are committed to playing the long game, believing God is stirring in this generation.
The beautiful part? God invites us to partner with him in reaching the next generation. At VOUS we do this through the junior high and high school community of our church — VOUS High. This is a place where next gen can belong, grow, and encounter God. We believe that if we can get these students in the room and engage them, we can connect them to community and partner with God as he works in their lives.
There are a few different facets of our youth ministry that help us do this.
1. VOUS High Nite
One of the most evangelical experiences we offer is VOUS High Nite. Every month, we create a place for students from all over our community to gather together. We program the night in three sections:
We kick off the night with a pre-party. Each VOUS High Nite has something a little different — food stations, bracelet-making tables, inflatable rentals, cornhole, ping pong, video game stations — whatever we can do to make the environment engaging and fun. The goal of the pre-party is to serve as an icebreaker, helping the students relax, feel comfortable, and have a good time.
Once the pre-party wraps up, we transition students into the auditorium for the service. VOUS High Nites offer a unique worship experience that is different from a Sunday service. Different portions of the experience are youth-led. A leader gives a message that is relevant and relatable to the youth in the room. Sometimes we’ll organize breakouts after the sermon, splitting students by gender and grade. This segment of the night is designed to create an environment for students to connect with God. Above all, this is the most important thing.
We end the night with a post-party featuring a DJ, dancing, and a spread of food and candy. The students are totally at ease at this point, making this the perfect opportunity for them to build community with each other as they play games and have conversation in the courtyard. What makes these nights truly special is that we often see students attending that we don’t normally see. Youth who don’t typically come to church will come to a fun hang with their friends.
VOUS High Nites are a prime example of how consistency is key. As we maintain the same general structure, we’ve seen students grow in their willingness to attend and openness to the Holy Spirit. They know what to expect each time and build it into their monthly rhythm. Whether they realize it or not, we are setting the stage for them to have an encounter with God. More than hype, more than a good time or fun experience, we want them to have a moment with Jesus — all it takes is one moment in his presence to be marked forever. Our hope is that students from all over would come together to be encouraged and met by God wherever they are in their personal faith walk.
2. VOUS High Crews
As students start coming VOUS High Nites and forming relationships with peers and church leaders, we hope to get them plugged into a VOUS High Crew.
Crews are the small groups of our church. Life change happens in the context of community. As teenagers navigate this stage of life, one of the most important things we can do is connect them to others who are walking through similar experiences. There is power in knowing we are not alone in our struggles and doubts. By joining a Crew, students can have hard conversations, ask questions, be vulnerable, and receive guidance from leaders. It’s a powerful environment for spiritual growth and friendship.
In addition, our church sets aside time to love and serve our city through I Love My City projects each month. For every I Love My City event, we offer projects specifically for VOUS High at local schools and youth organizations. We encourage students to serve with their Crews, discovering the joy of generosity as they intentionally serve schools in our community.
3. VOUS High Up Front
Now that we’re hopefully engaging students every month at VOUS High Nites, we want to see them coming to church each week. VOUS High Up Front opens the door and motivates students to come together to church each week.
Students gather in the courtyard every Sunday at 5:30 PM — sometimes we’ll order pizza, other times we’ll play volleyball. We have seats reserved specifically for VOUS High Students to sit together up front in the auditorium for the 6:00 service. We’re hoping this incentivizes students to get to church (and bring a friend with them). We truly believe that if we can get them in the room, God will meet them there. We want to see each student become rooted and established in their faith journey.
We’re always looking to build relationships with local schools and youth organizations. We believe we’re stronger when we link arms — our reach goes farther when we join forces with others who are working to lead the youth into life with Jesus. Not only are we looking for ways to connect with the greater student body around South Florida, we also want to show our support for organizations who are fighting the good fight with us. We might represent different organizations, but our mission is the same. We can do more when we partner together.
At the end of the day, our mission is to expose the youth to the Gospel. Culture is loud — at their age, there are so many platforms shouting at them and vying for their attention. We want the message and hope of Jesus to be louder than the world.