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Is God at Work in Our Middle Schools?

Written by Bob Martin on

Sometimes I wonder if God is at work in our schools. It’s easy for me to hear discouraging statistics or cultural stories and feel hopeless. However, I recently had a moment that changed my view.

I walked into a local middle school at seven o’clock in the morning. Far down the corridor I could see a hive of middle-schoolers buzzing around a table, scrambling with Sharpies and name tags, squeezing into the doorway of the a double-wide classroom. 

The World’s Longest Sundae

Inside, I was greeted with handshakes and hugs from some familiar friends: a small band of fellow College Parkers—parents who love their kids and their kids’ classmates.

We were at the weekly Cru gathering for students. And as the middle schoolers gathered, the adults were shuffling alongside a long stretch of tables, assembling a forty-foot-long ice cream sundae. The massive dessert was comprised of one hundred bowls of split bananas, scoops of ice cream, and glorious chocolate syrup, sitting inside a tremendous plastic house gutter.

Ice Cream for Breakfast

The swarm of middle-schoolers descended upon the carpet with eyes forward as Carolyn from the Cru staff shared about an upcoming barn party event and enlisted two students to gown themselves in plastic bags. Two other students then fed the gowned students a full ice cream sundae. 

Freezing dessert wouldn’t have been my ideal breakfast, but one hundred spellbound middle-schoolers begged to differ. What could possibly come next?

Sundaes & Sunday

That’s when I heard five little words: “Now let’s welcome our speaker.” 

Now, if you’re the speaker, you know that your stomach and brain immediately collide.  Your stomach says, “Gotta run!” but your brain says, “Get it done!” My brain won, and I threaded my way through cross-legged seventh graders to the front.

In about six minutes, I got to share how Jesus’s resurrection is important because it makes us new (Rom. 6:4): We can be new in this life—forgiven and empowered—but we also receive new life forever with God after we die. Or, if you’ll allow for some cheesy humor: “Just like this sundae we’re building today is new, Jesus rose on a Sunday to make you new!”

At the end, the students and I prayed together. We prayed that those of us who are Christians would live in our new identity, following Jesus well and telling others about him. We also prayed for those who haven’t yet followed Jesus, and I shared that they could pray right there for God to forgive them through Jesus’s death and make them new.

My hope was that the truths would stick with the students as they completed comment cards and grabbed a bowl from the legendary forty-foot sundae. 

God at Work

Afterwards, the team and I reviewed the comment cards and were thrilled to see that:

  • Four students wanted to meet up with a leader to talk more about Jesus
  • Twenty-eight students wanted to join a Bible study
  • Nine students said they made a decision to follow Jesus!

I was stirred to see that these young people were taking faith seriously, and that many were seeking Jesus for the first time. And that was just from one event. Imagine the impact as these same young men and women will return to Cru events and Bible studies in the coming weeks.

It’s easy to forget that God is at work. He’s not just at work within our church; he’s at work in our city. Each day, he’s drawing men and women to himself, and we get to be a part of it—with or without ice cream.

Bob Martin

Bob first joined staff at College Park as a Pastoral Resident in 2011 and has served in several important roles since that time. He now serves as the Pastor of Membership & Connection. Bob is passionate about seeing men and women enter into community with others to find hope together. He enjoys spending time with his wife, family, and friends.

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