Did you have a positive influence in your life as a teenager? Perhaps someone came into your life at a crucial time and made an investment in you, the dividends of which you still feel today. At Access we talk a lot about all the ways God uses these kinds of pivotal relationships to help us on our faith journey. It’s hard to think of a a more critical time for this than middle and high school, when the pressures are strong and the choices made can have far-reaching consequences.
Justin Smith knows the pressures students face. And because of the people who invested in him as a teenager, he knows the difference it makes when someone takes a vested interest in helping a teenager navigate the tough choices. Justin is passionate about connecting students to God and community and equipping them to make wise choices. We’re excited to have Justin join our Access staff as Student Ministry Director. He’s working hard to to continue creating an environment where students feel connected, safe, and encouraged in their developing faith journey.
Justin and his wife, Jasmine, began attending Access three years ago and quickly connected with a Community Group. Family Ministry at Access was an ongoing topic of conversation for the group members, as many of them were actively involved in serving there. Justin wanted to take the next step in his faith journey and decided this meant serving on a team. Family Ministry seemed a natural place to make a difference. Justin became a small-group leader for elementary boys in UpStreet, and when his students moved up to middle school, Justin moved with them into Student Ministry. Jasmine joined him in leading there and became a small-group leader for middle-school girls.
Since they first came to Access three years ago, the Smith family has grown to include Isla Mae (2) and Malachi (8 mos). In the midst of their busy lives, Justin and Jasmine continue to live out their passion and commitment to invest in students and see their faith grow.
Two things become quickly evident when you see Justin interacting with students: he is earnest about helping them learn to make wise choices, and he knows how to have fun. Justin’s ability to put teenagers at ease as well as challenge them toward wisdom is asset Justin leverages toward one ultimate purpose: “It’s about the opportunity to lead students to the most crucial relationship they will form, a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Justin sees the big picture when it comes to working with students. He knows that the direction taken and the choices made now will impact the rest of their lives and the lives of others they influence. “From a practical perspective, one day the students we serve will be our co-workers, neighbors, and friends,” he said. “It’s important they reference Christ in the way they behave and interact with other people.”
Being a positive influence on others is an integral part of the mission of Student Ministry at Access. Teenagers, just like adults, are looking to be a part of something bigger than themselves. What could be bigger, or more exciting, than being a vital part of what God is doing in the world? This is the vision Justin and the Student Ministry leaders want their students to catch as they live it out themselves. As students learn what wisdom looks like in everyday choices and feel connected and challenged, they change their worlds.
“My vision is for Access Student Ministry to be a welcoming environment where students want to invite their friends,” Justin said. Having fun every Sunday and at outside events is a part of that, but small-group connection is the heart of it all, where students find a safe place to belong as they navigate the pressures of life as a teenager. “Ultimately I want students to know they are part of a community wherever they go in life and that God has given them the ability to be a positive influence on their community in some capacity.”
If you are interested in being a part of what God is doing in the lives of Access students, Justin would love to talk to you!
Posted December 13, 2017