A shoot shall come out of the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots (Isaiah 11:1). So begins one of Isaiah’s prophecies about the coming Messiah, and the gospels describe its fulfillment. But it is more than a prophecy specific to the life of Jesus. It also typifies how life works in his Kingdom.
We’ve all seen the sight Isaiah described – a tree stump that looks for all the world like it’s dead. But then comes the shoot from one corner, bending toward the sky. In the Kingdom life is resilient, and the flourishing of one season soon yields to a different form in the next. But always there is life. The Branch who grew from the roots himself sees to it.
Our Elders got a reminder of that Kingdom pattern when Taylor Greene dropped by Monday evening. Taylor is our Student Connector, a very part-time staff role. He facilitates student relationships with each other and the adult leaders.
Last summer our Student Ministry came to a stump moment. Sarah, Scott, and Jake, the remaining core of the ministry’s last season of flourishing, were heading off for their freshman year in college, leaving just a handful of students in middle and high schools.
But the Lord wasn’t stumped. He brought forth a shoot through a student ministry partnership with our sister church, Christ Presbyterian. Each brought a few students, and with some others brought by Jo and Tommy from their Highland Park neighborhood, a whole new mix of students has grown up – now with the critical mass necessary for student ministry. They gather at Christ Church on Sunday mornings and here on Wednesday evenings. And already there are buds and the signs of coming fruit – all the more robust because of the cross-pollination.
What makes for a flourishing student ministry? Most churches seek the right mix of three ingredients: a hip youth director, a cool space to meet, and whopping events. And those can all be useful. But as St. Giles has found, it’s hard to keep them all going in the right mix.
So it’s all the more fascinating that for this new shoot all of those are secondary. This shoot is flourishing through relationships, diversity, and a clear focus on the core of the gospel and what it means for teens. Who knew? The One who brings forth shoots in the right way at the right time.
The Elders rejoiced to hear what God is doing, and they concluded by laying hands on Taylor and praying for yet more of the Spirit to pour upon him, the adult leaders, the students, and our partnership with Christ Church. Won’t it be fun to watch the Lord’s shoot grow?!