Imagine walking into a room packed with preteens. A four-square ball bounces past you, and a few seconds later a Ping-Pong ball narrowly misses your head. The air buzzes with laughter and talking. This is the scene on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights for 4th+5th Grade and Middle School. Both ministries know how to have a good time and help students grow in their faith, but to do both more effectively there is a need: more space.
4th+5th Grade Ministry needs a designated space to call its own, and the Middle School Room has reached its capacity and needs additional space for the ministry to grow in. While this year’s Love Offering will go toward physical spaces, it will have eternal impacts on not only the next generation but also many generations after.
Put yourself in the shoes of a parent. For some of you, that isn’t hard because you already wear them. Every parent wants a place for their child to feel safe and at home, especially at church. Donny Mayo knows that feeling, as a dad to a 4th grader and a middle schooler. He is also the Chairman of this year’s Love Offering Committee.
“Thinking about this age and all they face day in and day out, they need to have a place where they can come, pause, catch their breath, and ask any question they want,” Donny said. “They need to be able to look around and know that they belong.”
Reflect on your preteen years, and you will recall a mix of emotions: having fun, discovering how to fit in, forming your own thoughts and opinions. Preteens today are going through the same things, and the upgraded and renovated 4th+5th Grade and Middle School rooms will allow the church to reach and minister to students in the best ways possible. They will have a blast, discover their identity in Christ, and form thoughts and opinions that are rooted in truth.
“This is such a special age,” 4th+5th Grade Director Christy McGregor said. “In this age group, we really see a lot of them put their faith and trust in Jesus, and others who have been walking with the Lord for a while begin to see that living a life of faith is more than just knowing the Bible stories.”
TJ Smith’s walk with the Lord began in Middle School Ministry when he was saved at Catalyst, Bellevue’s DNOW weekend. Since then, his faith has continued to grow.
“I have learned many things about being a godly man and how to live a Christlike life,” TJ said. “There are so many great mentors involved with Middle School Ministry who taught me responsibility, accountability, and how to figure out what God is telling me.”
Middle School Pastor Cory O’Hara is one of those mentors, and he explained why instilling foundational biblical truths in young students is so crucial.
“Middle school students are at one of the most pivotal points in their developmental journey,” he said. “What we know is that they’re going to come out of these middle school years knowing how they think, what they believe, and who they are as a believer.”
Through Middle School Ministry, Jonah Young has put into action what he believes.
“It has encouraged me to spend more time reading the Bible and taught me the importance of being a godly leader. I’ve been taught how to interpret the Bible and teach others,” he said.
Next Gen Pastor Jay Stephenson has seen many preteens and teens like Jonah go from students to teachers and from hearers to doers of the Word.
“I’ve been at Bellevue for 11 years. I’ve seen so many students come through our ministry in 4th+5th Grade, Middle School, and High School, and now many of them are married with kids of their own,” he said. “They’ll tell stories about 4th+5th Grade and Middle School Ministry, and I’ve had great conversations about the things they learned about the Lord that they’re now putting into practice as adults.”
Before we know it, our preteens will grow into adults, and they may not remember every detail of the ministry areas we will build through Love Offering 2023. But they will carry what they learn in those rooms into their adult years, and beyond as they live for God’s kingdom, whether they remain here or are sent out into the world.
To give and learn more about this year’s Love Offering visit bellevue.org/love-offering.