Blog

A Big Heart for Teens

Meet Margaret, a Fairfield HouseGroup leader for the upperclassmen girls in Vineyard Students. 

What do you like best about serving in this way?
I really love hanging out with the high school girls! Maybe I’m still a big kid at heart – but I love having an excuse to do fun things with them like play games, sing, dance, act silly, and worship with complete freedom. We dig into the Bible and applying God’s Word and promises to our current day culture and everyday lives at church, HouseGroup, and youth events.

I really, really love connecting with the girls and being a part of their lives. I love seeing them meet goals, conquer challenges, and even walk through tough stuff while sharing with our small group and praying for each other! I love it that they really let me in and accept me and let me be a part of them. Yet they also show respect, ask great questions, and genuinely want to learn how to incorporate God into their lives.

Sometimes I feel like I may be the only adult some of these kids feel comfortable asking the questions they have about God and life. It could be intimidating, but I rely completely on the Lord to take me through those situations and speak through me to them. I am amazed by some of the words He has given me when I know I never would’ve thought of them on my own. Relying on the Lord to help me has grown my faith beyond anything I could imagine. I’ve also seen the Lord speak through the girls to each other and do some absolutely awesome things in and their lives! Showing the girls that they can be used by God and make a difference in this world has given me a sense of joy and fulfillment that I could never explain.

Do you have a story about how you got started in this serving role? 
When I filled out the serving application, I actually wanted to serve in the Student Union Café, as a greeter, or something behind the scenes. That was 6 years ago when my daughter was in the sixth grade and I just wanted to be better connected with what was happening in Student Ministries. The Students Ministry needed small group leaders and asked if I had any experience and if I felt comfortable with youth. I’d been a middle school teacher for our homeschool co-op and saw that I had a pretty good connection with my students, so I gave it a shot.

I was completely nervous and scared and thought, “What have I gotten myself into?” Then I absolutely fell in love with those awkward, self-conscious, sweet and sassy middle school girls – my daughter being one of them. I learned that they would completely accept me if I was just willing to be consistent and be there for them and show them that I really cared. I moved up with them each year and now they are in eleventh grade.

How does serving help you feel connected with the community at the Vineyard?
I feel like I’m partnering with the parents of our teens at VCC, and also partnering with our church to invest in the future. So many parents feel like they can’t relate to their teens, or like they don’t know how to talk to them about difficult subjects, or about how God fits into their lives in this 2018 culture. I feel like HouseGroup provides a safe place for them to navigate these subjects and build relationships that ultimately coincide with their parents’ beliefs and values.

I have also become great friends with the other HouseGroup leaders. We are on a mission together to make a difference in the lives of these teens, so we all love and support each other like family. I’ve also gotten to know a lot of people in the Vineyard Young Adults ministry because they’re involved as leaders or teen event volunteers. They are so awesome to work with, and their positive example to the high schoolers is such a light in our culture that bashes millennials. I’ve also gotten to know Vineyard Student staff members in a way that I never would have if I didn’t spend time with them. I love seeing their hearts and commitment to serving our students. They are amazing and I love working with them!

How has serving others impacted your life?
I think the biggest way I’ve been impacted is by seeing teenagers in a different light. Teenagers get a bad rep, but that’s not the side of teens that I typically see. They really just want to be a part of something, be accepted, and be cared about. I see how sweet, generous, kind, helpful and fun they are. They really enjoy encouraging each other and praying for each other – even aloud! The other way I’ve been impacted is in my own spiritual growth! I have been challenged by “my girls” and leading teens is honestly an excellent way to stay completely dependent on God. I’m held accountable for staying in His word and living the way I should. I can’t challenge them to do it if I’m not doing it, and I take that very seriously.

Leading teens has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. The added bonus is that I get to do this alongside my own teens! I realize that it’s a gift that my teens allow me to lead and they include me. Specifically my daughter, whom I’ve had in my group for 6 years now. We have so many special memories together because of this role that I’ve had in her life. Each year, I ask her if it’s okay for me to continue leading her group, or if she wants to switch groups. She recently told me she couldn’t imagine anyone else being her leader and it completely rocked by world and brought me to tears. What a gift!

Share a little bit about how you first started going to the Vineyard.
Funny story. My husband Mike and I were engaged in 1995 when my sister Theresa invited us to the Vineyard because “she needed help with the kids.” She knew I wasn’t attending church and had serious doubts about God at the time. She also knew I’d do anything for my nieces and nephews. I told Mike that if I had to go, he did too! We absolutely loved it and felt so accepted and encouraged. We started coming about once a month.

Even though we weren’t really living a fantastic Christian lifestyle, in 1996 we started serving on the parking lot team with my sister Maria and her husband and their small group friends. We had so much fun and it helped us see that being involved with people from church was a positive thing in our lives. It took years, but we finally gave in and let the Lord take over our lives after we had our own kids. Serving with that parking lot team helped us switch directions in our lives and make a commitment to attend church regularly.

We could see the impact that being involved with the “right crowd” had on our lives. We stopped serving for various reasons and later saw the effect it had on our lives. We started serving again by serving in the preschool.when our daughter was in preschool. Mike now serves in Hospitality, and this is Greta's sixth year serving with the three year olds in Vineyard Kids. Serving at VCC is really a big part of our family. 

If you're interested in serving with Vineyard Students, email students@vineyardcincinnati.com for more information.