God challenged Kathryn Rauhauser to pray an impossible prayer. Her prayer is that none in her youth group will fall away from God. But God’s also using her as part of the answer. Through times of discipleship, teaching, friendship and service, Kathryn, the Director of Youth Ministries at Georgetown First UMC, seeks to surround these teens with the love of God so that none will stop serving Him.
The Barna Research Group shows that six out of 10 millennials leave church as adults. To Kathryn these statistics highlight a serious cultural trend, one that she hopes to change.
“My heart is to see that trend reversed,” Kathryn said. “I want the teens in my youth group to see adults living out their faith and surrounded by the love of God in such a big way that they can’t deny that Jesus is real and cares for them and become faithful disciples. That is what attempting something big looks like to me.”
Kathryn, who just completed her first year at Asbury Seminary, has been serving at Georgetown First UMC since her arrival on campus. She first felt God calling her to youth ministry while completing her undergraduate studies at Mississippi College. While studying, she served in youth ministry for four years at Madison UMC.
“God just ignited a passion for me to see teens come to understand the love of God,” she said.
In addition to Sunday night youth group of Bible study, Kathryn focuses the group around intentional fellowship through summer activities, such as hiking, pool parties, game nights, mini-golfing or laser tag. These events provide opportunities to hang out with each other and grow closer as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Yet, whether learning in high school or graduate school, Kathryn believes it’s important to serve.
“In repeating what I was learning in class, it made those lessons stick in my mind and my heart,” Kathryn said. “Sharing these truths makes it more real. We’re not just talking about having real faith, we’re exercising real faith.”
However, she doesn’t want to serve alone. As the teens in the youth group receive, Kathryn teaches them to give. While learning is important, she believes it’s equally valuable for the teens in her group to take what they’ve learned and pass it on to others.
“My prayer is that the lessons of Jesus stick better because they see it in action and have the opportunity to put it in action,” she said.
The church partners with the Scott United Ministries Amen House, a local food bank. Here the students help sort food for the pantry and serve meals. Often they recognize those who come to receive food as those they sit next to in class or pass in the hallways at school. Putting faces with those in need allows them to show the love of God to their peers.
“In the past, we’ve done a week-long mission trip, and some of the students are able to get involved, but not all are able to go on an out-of-state trip,” Kathryn said. “We want to give every student the opportunity to serve.”
Kathryn is pursuing her master of divinity degree at Asbury Theological Seminary and expects to graduate in 2019.
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