CHICAGO, IL (July 31, 2018)—After the mountaintop experience of an event like CHIC, it’s natural to ask the question, “What next?” In a few weeks, for the 5,000 students who were there, that answer will be a return to the necessary yet monotonous rhythms of high school life. But in their communities now students have the opportunity to put into practice what they learned recently at the University of Tennessee. The “Next Steps” lounge at CHIC was created to aid students in their transition back home.
The lounge was located outside the arena during the evening sessions. Jeff Grosskopf, youth pastor at Bellingham (Washington) Covenant Church and a volunteer in the Next Steps lounge, said the vision for the space was that it be “mature and serious” while also informal. As many students were making big decisions during the MainStage events, the lounge was created to help students identify what they could do next. It also offered resources to help students answer pressing questions. “We help them channel their excitement to make concrete action steps,” Grosskopf said, “The goal is that they share what they’re doing, we celebrate them, resource them, encourage them, and send them out.”
At first, traffic in the lounge was light, but by the end of the week the space was filled with students. They could write down their commitments and prayer requests on post-it notes on a pillar labeled “I have decided…” Some simply wanted to talk. One student received a Bible and came back the next night saying, “I started reading the book of Matthew.”
Another group of students responded to a powerful night of worship and seeing a video of Denis Estimond, who started a club called We Dine Together so that no one in his high school sits alone at lunch. Mackenzie Jacobs, Taylor Sayre, Larriss Lamb, Carly Wiirre, Joria Downing, and Caitlin Bright, of Alexandria Covenant Church in Alexandria, Minnesota, all felt a call to minister in a tangible way in their high school. “Taylor was the one who had the initial idea,” Jacobs said, “but when all of us debriefed and talked about it after, we really wanted to be a light in the darkness, and we thought that starting a Bible study would be the best way.”
At their high school, Jacobs said, “A lot of people say they’re Christian, but there is a large disconnect between what people profess and what they practice. We hope our Bible study can be more of a discussion and that people can have healthy dialogue and ask hard questions.”
The group of friends are already making plans to meet from 7:30 to 8:10 every Tuesday morning once school starts. While they are still figuring out what book to go through, they hope to minister outside of their school’s walls and think holistically about their community just as they learned to do at CHIC. Jacobs hopes to create a letter-writing station where students can write to people who are homeless as well as register the Bible study as an official school club.
She adds that the Bible study will be a reminder of the commitments she made at CHIC. “The six of us all came up with this idea at CHIC. On the bus ride back home all we did was brainstorm logistics the whole way. Even if doing this gets hard, we do not want to forget what we learned . We’re thankful that we can be united in this work and support one another.”
Michelle Sanchez, executive minister of Make and Deepen Disciples says, “One of our dreams for CHIC is to mobilize youth to go both deeper in Christ and further in mission. I was so delighted by how well teens were equipped and encouraged to share their faith with their peers! I have no doubt that CHIC 2018 will continue to bear eternal fruit as a result.”