Church #32. Meet Judy Nuehring. She is the Director of Youth and Family Ministry at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Villa Park, Illinois. With an average worshiping attendance of 200 people on a given Sunday, St. Paul is a church where community is at the center of their mission.
Nuehring, a veteran in youth ministry, shows up every Monday night at the local Starbucks to meet high school students. With the Starbucks located behind the high school, kids start rolling in around 7:30 pm. It’s a program called “Logos” that started 12 years ago with Nuehring at the helm. Nuehring provided many anecdotes of why meeting off-site from church for Bible study is working for her group. Check it out:
- Kids feel more comfortable inviting their friends. It’s a welcoming environment which removes the internal youth group agenda and insider language.
- Builds a relationship with a local establishment. Logos for a while now has had the same baristas. Sometimes they will even have drinks ready for the kids as they come in!
- Customers get in on the action. Sometimes people will interrupt their conversation to comment on something or compliment their group.
- Witnessing to the masses with their faith. Being in Starbucks for Bible study shows youth their faith lives outside the walls of the church.
- Starbucks is kid-turf. They love drinking fancy coffee and having caring conversations with one another.
- Monday night is a neutral time for families. With several kids coming from split households, they can only attend church every other week. Monday night is more accessible.
- Engaging in God’s story leads to other topics. Being together in a safe space opens the opportunity to talk about the hard things happening in daily life.
- Builds relationship across the generations. Other caring adults cycle in and out of the group including parents, young adults, and college students.
The best part of Logos is that we get to be together every week. Nuehring says, “Kids come into the Starbucks expecting to study God’s word (Logos), but what we really encounter is community.” That’s the heart of meeting up: community.
Why does this story matter? It matters because of the story found in Luke 24:13-35, The Road to Emmaus. Nuehring remarked that the more time the disciples spent with Jesus, the more their eyes were opened. Now, it’s youth group that studies “Logos,” God’s word. The hope is the more time these kids spend studying God’s word, the more their eyes are opened – opened to see the world around them as community.
For more information on this story, please contact Judy Nuehring at 630-832-5580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.