April 10, 2018
Greetings partners and participants of Lettered Streets Covenant Church,
For the past three years, Christy Wilson has served as the director of our eldest group of kids colloquially known as the ‘Cohort’. The Cohort has been involved in the life of our church by remaining in the service as participants every other week. During the off weeks, they participate in a time of worship, fellowship, and discipleship as a small group during the sermon time. Additionally, they meet outside of church periodically for service projects and to simply enjoy each other’s company. This group spans three age groups ranging from fifth to seventh grade this year. Next year every one of them will be in middle school which presents a new opportunity for ministry in two directions.
First, as middle schoolers, the Cohort is entering a different social and developmental stage and so we are exploring how to most effectively disciple them. Second, this fall we’ll have a new crop of third-fifth graders who will be ready to form a new cohort.
Over the past seven months we have hosted four focus groups where parents, leadership team members, and students have had the opportunity to share their hopes, fears, and expectations for the youth group moving forward. They also had a chance to share how they perceived their experience with the cohort over the past few years.
After these months of prayer, conversation, and asking for feedback from parents, students, and Christy, the leadership team and I believe we are being led in the following direction. We will make Christy our youth director. Her hours and compensation will be doubled and she will oversee ministry to our current Cohort as well as the group coming up the ranks next fall. Christy will recruit and develop more volunteers to help work with the kids and she will split her time between the two groups. Details about how all this will work and what, exactly, it looks like with be forthcoming. In the meantime, allow me to share a few reasons we should rejoice in this decision.
First, Christy has proved herself to be a fantastic leader of the cohort ministry and a wonderful influence on this current group of kids. What you may not know is that Christy has also served as the youth director at Bellingham Covenant Church and brings that experience to this position as well. We are blessed to have Christy on staff and working with our kids.
Second, after talking with parents, students, outside consultants, and other lay people in the church, the cohort model is proving to be effective in a number of ways including:
• Providing a community where our kids feel they belong
• Keeping our kids connected and participating in the life of the larger church so they also feel connected among our adult population
• Helping our kids grow in their relationship with Jesus and learn to articulate that relationship
• Encouraging deepening faith and growing knowledge of basic biblical understanding
• Kids making important relationships with adults besides their parents and the pastor—an essential element in young adults who remain active participants in churches after high school.
Third, pre-teens and teenagers benefit greatly from relational consistency. Christy and her team have already invested in this group of kids and developed trust and rapport. Having a safe and trusted community and leadership during years of social and emotional upheaval can be invaluable.
Fourth, doubling Christy’s role instead of hiring another part-time person will help bring continuity and consolidation to our team. The longer we work together, the more effective we are becoming and this helps us stay true to our church ethos, vision, and values.
I am excited for Christy to officially start her new role in August. In the meantime she may begin recruiting volunteers and start planning for the fall season when the new cohort will form. I hope you will take the opportunity to encourage Christy as she steps out in faith to accept this more robust role in the life of our church family.
Grace and Peace,
Chris Eltrich, Pastor