It’s not easy preaching the word of God to a collection of people who are often more interested in video games, shopping and each other – but Ignite youth ministry on York Street might be on to something.
Ignite began with just five or six young people, who meet Wednesday evenings at Harvest Christian Fellowship Church. That was in January.
At their last service this week Ignite had more than 70 young people laughing, singing and learning about faith.
Paul L’Ecuyer, the youth pastor for Ignite, said the secret to the early success of the teen church rests in its ability to appeal to young people on their level.
Ignite is church – but it doesn’t feel like that. Upbeat music that is blasted through a pair of massive speakers and makes it feel more like a party. There is a great deal of social interaction among Ignite members and L’Ecuyer tries to make his weekly message – or sermon – about things that young people can relate to, like school, bullying and peer pressure.
“My goal is to make Jesus famous,” said L’Ecuyer. “It’s not that we want kids to live their life a certain way because there are rules. We want them to live that way because they choose to.”
Services are based more on curb appeal than stringent protocols. A live band compliments recorded music, a message is preached by L’Ecuyer and a collection of leaders – young adults and local professionals – help work with teenagers in smaller groups.
“It’s really cool what has been happening,” said L’Ecuyer, referring to the surge in popularity Ignite has enjoyed thus far. “My goal is just to get them in, and let God take care of the rest.
“I want every single kid to hear what this is all about, and then make the decision for themselves about whther they want to come or not.”
So far the message has spread by word of mouth. Teenagers are telling their friends and more and more of them are walking through the doors.
“We try to make church appealing to teenagers,” said L’Ecuyer. “Then the thing that keeps them here is they want to know more about God and that he loves them.”
Ignite services begin every Wednesday at 7 p.m. They can be found on Facebook and Twitter @IgniteCornwall.