First Congregational Church
Stanton, MI

Love for Truth  *  Passion for Righteousness  *  Enthusiasm for Service


Open Door Newsletter


             --Pastor Jamey Nichols                     

          “The Guys,” as we like to refer to them, have officially begun their ministry—what an exciting time for our church! The dreaming, the praying, the planning . . . the phone calls, the interviews, the tours . . . the delays, the rejections, the wondering . . . so much has occurred prior to where we now stand. Isn’t that emblematic of all faith journeys? We believe God is leading us toward a destination, so we make our plans and set out. Along the way, however, the path takes turns we could’ve never foreseen. It reminds me of Proverbs 16:9 which declares, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” It also reminds me of last year’s Lenten study on Pilgrim’s Progress. FCC is on a journey and I find great comfort in knowing that even though we make plans, our providential God who works all things for our good and His glory is ordaining the path we end up walking.

          The last two weeks of December and the first week of January were all about onboarding. Mitch and Cody and I spent a lot of time planning and strategizing how we were going to approach this unique outreach ministry to middle school kids. We met with school officials who were thrilled at the prospect of young men being in the building. We met with area pastors and youth directors so the guys could be familiar with who else shares a similar desire for reaching our city for Christ. We met with Tim Grant, Montcalm County Youth for Christ (YFC) director who is well established in Carson City/Crystal and had been looking for ways to expand into Central Montcalm. YFC is an organization who does similar work to what we’re doing, and Tim, himself a 20-year veteran of student ministry, has enthusiastically agreed to coach Mitch and Cody indefinitely. The guys have also spent time with our own FCC students building relationships that will help bridge the gap between FCC’s youth group and the middle school students who will eventually come visit our youth group. Ground work, ground work, ground work. These first six weeks have focused on laying the foundation for all that God might want to do.

          Initially, each guy will have one day every week in which they volunteer at the school. The principal, dean of students, and school counselor have all expressed interest in having our guys do things such as: wrangle the kids in the gym while waiting for first bell of the morning; wrangling kids during lunch where lack of structure and minimal supervision offer an ideal setting for misbehavior; assisting with kids (especially boys) whose personal needs require time with an older male to guide and encourage; leading groups of kids (especially boys) who need mentoring on how to be strong young men capable of checking their anger; and general parapro-esque duties throughout the day. These are all plans of the heart, but the Lord will determine our steps.

          In addition to a day each week at the school, both boys will take different days of the week to teach a Bible study at the school during lunch. Since lunch time is essentially free time, students may electively participate in Bible study. Already, two area youth pastors teach a middle school Bible study each week. Add to that Mitch and Cody and our CMMS students would have the opportunity four days every week to take their lunch to an unused classroom in order to look into God’s word for the answers to life’s most basic questions. I’ve heard of no other public middle schools in Montcalm County (not to mention the entire state!) who offer Bible studies for students at that frequency. What a blessing this is for our community. What an opportunity for God to work through us as we “go into all the world and preach the gospel,” (Mark 16:15).

          More specific details will be reported as stories, successes, and setbacks occur. Keep an eye on future newsletters for ministry updates. Also, listen for Sunday prayer requests/praises for what God is doing and what we’d like to see Him do in the ministry. And, continue to pray for the guys as they look for what God is doing and join Him in it. Finally, continue to pray for the rest of the work that supports their work: Scot and Karisia as they lead FCC teens each Sunday afternoon; Tom Burge as he teaches FCC teens each Sunday morning; me as I oversee the guys and the ministry development; the school officials and their ongoing welcome of our presence; the trustees as they finalize securing housing/teen center space; Tim Grant as he mentors our guys; and the prospering of FCC as we meet each week to grow and worship and support the ministry efforts here in Stanton.

You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand, high your right hand. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you. Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk O Lord, in the light of your face. (Psalm 89:13-15)