Saturday, January 18, 2003

Ministry just for young people

By Anna Guido
Enquirer contributor

[photo] Games and snacks are part of Elevate, but the youths also attend a worship service.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
WEST CHESTER TWP. - The goal of the Elevate student ministry at Liberty Heights Church is to attract adolescents and steer them in the right direction.

Judging by the packed houses at the weeknight gatherings, the ministry is succeeding.

Part of the lure may be ski trips, bands and recreation, but church services and plain open talk are attractions, too, for the fast-growing group.

"It's church, but it's not boring," said Carly Wells, 13, of Mason. "And everybody comes - popular kids, nerds. But when you're here, everybody fits in."

Carly, an eighth-grader at Mason Middle School, was at Elevate Wednesday evening with classmates, including Katie Good, 14.

"It's a good Christian environment," said Katie. Katie and Carly were talking near the snack bar after Wednesday's worship service. Jordan Arnold, 13, was playing video games. "It's a place where you can go and get some positive influence," Jordan said.

About Elevate
Liberty Heights Church, a Southern Baptist Fellowship, is at 9180 Cincinnati-Columbus Road (U.S. 42). The Elevate building is just south of the church at 9536 Cincinnati-Columbus Road.
For information, call the church at (513) 777-6812, or go to
Elevate is held three nights a week for students in Grades 6 through 12. Students play games, eat pizza and snacks, or socialize for an hour until a worship service begins. Student pastor Eric Geiger, 27, calls everyone to the seating area in front of the stage. The service runs about an hour. When it's over, the band plays, with 30 minutes left for more fun or informal discussion with adult volunteer leaders.

Elevate attracts more than 400 kids a week. When Pastor Geiger started Elevate three years ago, weekly attendance was about 60.

"It's been a phenomenal couple of years," he said.

Pastor Geiger said student ministry is growing nationally and in all denominations.

"So many choices that affect your life forever are made during adolescence," he said.

Student ministry also is more prevalent in college education.

Thomas Hutchison, an associate professor of Christian Education at Cedarville University east of Dayton, said youth ministry has renewed emphasis because youths increasingly are lacking adult role models.

"What we're trying to do with our students is help them understand the characteristics of the age groups and help them understand the Bible," Dr. Hutchison said.


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