Meeting at The Pier
By Jeff McIlrath
What happens when a pastor with a heart for youth ministry moves to a church with a heart for youth ministry? The Pier.
When my family and I moved to Alexandria Bay, New York, and Reformed Church of the Thousand Isles (RCTI) last June, we immediately discovered a church with the heart, theology, and tradition to pursue intentional youth ministry.
RCTI had a legacy of caring about youth and community. The church provides a Wednesday night community meal that's free to all and staffed by a combination of adults and youth. The church had founded a community program called Hearts for Youth and more recently a children's ministry called DOCK (Discipling of Christ's Kids).
So it is that after some prayer, it was decided to make available a place and time for seventh- to twelfth-grade students to gather in fellowship around God's Word. The gathering is called The Pier in keeping with the nautical themes that dominate the landscape of the Thousand Islands region along the St. Lawrence Seaway.
A pier is a place that a boat goes to be secure, to be refueled, and to be launched. So it is we hope The Pier will be a safe place for the youth of our community to encounter all those elements in Jesus.
The Monday night meeting times include time to hang out and enjoy the amenities of a building addition added 10 years ago with youth in mind, but The Pier centers around Bible study done in a way that offers a relationship with Christ and with one another.
As long as I have been involved with youth groups, people always ask, "What are you doing?" But I think a better question is, "Who are we being?" And the answer is, "We are the body of Christ."
The Pier launched October 21 and has quickly grown to average 25 attendees.
These students hunger for spiritual truth and I feel so blessed to be here serving alongside a church whose members are responding to those needs.
Jeff McIlrath is pastor of Reformed Church of the Thousand Isles in Alexandria Bay, New York.