In 2004, few would have guessed from driving by our stately campus that we were anything less than a slice of heaven. But our reality was far from divine. Years of unresolved differences between our church (The New Market, Virginia, Adventist Church) and the conference boarding school (Shenandoah Valley Academy) had left the campus on the verge of separation.
Blessedly, a core of supporters from both entities decided to start Reach Our Kids (ROK), a ministry bridging the gap between church members and high school students.
ROK today is our church’s largest ministry, with more than 100 adults involved each year. ROK provides such things as special Friday night vespers (one of which starts with an ever-popular hayride through our town) and Cookie Mondays (which is just what it sounds like – homemade cookies given to students on certain Mondays). ROK also ensures that each student has church members that “adopt” them, pray regularly for their success, and encourage them with notes and small gifts.
The first Sabbath of each school year is ROK Welcome Sabbath. Teachers and staff are publically dedicated to God at the beginning of the service. At the end, a gift bag witha ROK mug, coupons to local eateries, school supplies, and sweets is presented personally by church members to each student.
Today, the academy and church enjoy a dramatically improved relationship. While there have been many factors contributing to this, ROK has been at the heart of the transformation.
For a sample Welcome Sabbath, check out:
Shane Anderson is Senior Pastor for the New Market Church in Virginia