The new youth ministers, Josh and Megan McClure at Butterfield Church in Van Buren, Arkansas, ended their first series called “My Story” on Wednesday, March 18, 2015. The McClures have worked with youth for a combined eighteen years.
Approximately 125 students, in grades 7-12, attended the Blaze 52 series each week at Butterfield Church. Almost 60 of these teenagers rode on buses, driven by church members, to participate in the services.
The purpose of the “My Story” series was developed to initiate a connection between leadership, sponsors, and youth. For six weeks, drugs, alcohol, sex, physical and emotional abuse, lack of self-worth, and suicide transcended the list of topics discussed by various speakers.
Six individuals with different backgrounds and stories, from the Van Buren, Fort Smith, and Alma areas, volunteered time to share their personal testimony with the Blaze 52 Youth Group. Each person discussed how they overcame major obstacles in their lives, such as physical and emotional abuse, drugs, and alcohol. They also explained how their relationship with God helps them overcome the numerous hurdles they continue to face on a daily basis.
Each week, as the speakers touched on various topics that the teenagers have experienced personally, several negative incidents occurred during service time. A few students were caught smoking and playing with fire in the bathroom. The leaders also caught both heterosexual and homosexual couples showing public displays of affection during break times. In addition, excessive foul language and threats against fellow students caused the leadership team to reevaluate and revamp their order of service.
McClure’s wife, Megan, who has a degree in music education stated, “You find that you have more behavioral issues from students who come from broken homes, or kids who have been in and out of foster care.” According to a study by the UCLA Department of Psychology, primary and secondary environmental factors can cause learning problems, social differences, and misbehavior.
In an article from The Journal of Youth Ministry, “Shaping the Spiritual Life of Students: A Guide for Youth Workers, Pastors, Teachers, and Campus Ministers” youth leaders are advised to stay away from a “one-size fits all disciple making” mentality.
J. McClure stated, “With the diversity of kids coming to church through our bus ministry, and from all different backgrounds and situations, we see different behavioral issues and ways the kids act out. ”
As their pastor, McClure hopes to disciple the youth group through positive reinforcement and love. Both McClure and his wife believe that if they want to reach young people and give them hope, they have to open up their arms and hearts to reflect the love of Christ.