It’s not at all a secret that growing up is rough. If you’ve already managed to survive your teenage years, you know that it’s a chunk of your life that was challenging, awkward, and at times just flat out brutal. And unfortunately you probably have the pictures of you and your frosted tips to prove it.
This is the messy and complicated stage of life that for better or worse has the potential to shape us into who we'll become. This is the messy and complicated stage of life that adult volunteers involved with Summit Student Ministries choose to enter back into.
Alexa Gellinger says that, for her, high school was a monumental stage of life. It’s where she, though having a basic understanding of who Jesus is while growing up, first encountered him in a genuine way through people who showed her what it was like to really walk with Christ. A lot of us could probably say we had a similar example set for us in high school—or at least that we wish we had. What’s different about Alexa is that she set about becoming that example for others and has been volunteering with student ministries for the past nine years.
Her most recent group just graduated from high school, and thus no longer fits into the “Summit Students” or “Edge attendees” categories. But the impact that their adult leaders—Alexa and her co-leaders Alyssa and Meagan— have had on these young women is obvious and stunning. One student, April, explains that in high school “there’s so much thrown at you and you can’t just deal with it on your own. Even just with friends—even if it was just me and the girls my age who come here, and we were trying to deal with some of our junk—we couldn’t. We need someone we can look up to and go to with the hard stuff.”
So that’s what April and her fellow Edge Connect group members have done for the past four years. It was that example that the adult leaders set of following Jesus that helped show these young girls that they could do the same. A while back when Alyssa was going through a tough time personally, the younger girls remember how she stayed true in her faith and that made a profound impact on them to see.
Georgia, one of the teenage girls, was reluctant for a while to even show up at Summit. “When I first got here, I thought everything they said here was just a bunch of junk and I only came because I wanted to hang out with my friends,” she explains. “And then eventually, I started actually believing everything they were saying here. I was in a lot of trouble when I first started coming here and I wish I’d had God in my life when I needed him. But then I started seeing how what these adults believed actually impacted them and how strongly they believed in it and that started impacting my life more and more.”
That impact is one that none of these ladies—adult leaders or recent graduates—are ready to leave behind. As the next school year starts, the students who are staying local have committed to stick together with their leaders as a college-aged Connect group.
“There’s so much here worth sticking around for,” one of the students, Danene says. “When we got here, us teenage girls, we were all broken. And I feel like God brought us all together and made something beautiful. Like, thinking back on how broken we all were when we first came into this room and then looking at where we are now. It’s just crazy.”
Alexa agrees, adding, “The girls have come so far. They are completely different people than they were a year ago, two years ago, three years ago. It’s just awesome what God can do because it’s definitely not us. He is the one that shows up and has been knocking on their hearts.”
And now, together as always, they'll see what God does next.
It is absolutely crucial that the children and students who grow up at Summit, and the parents who are raising them to be followers of Christ, have Family Ministry volunteers in their corner. Join the team.
Katie Schmidt is the Content Coordinator at Summit Church, which means that pretty much anything you can read at Summit, she either wrote, edited, or coordinated. If you would like to get in touch with her to ask her a question, or to bum her out and let her know that you found a typo somewhere, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.