By: Hans Gochenaur
While very few noticed, on April 1st 2008 a new youth ministry began here in Beaver Dam. My name is Hans Gochenaur and I began Beaver Dam Campus Life, a ministry of Fond du Lac Youth for Christ, to reach out to teens in our community. I first worked with Youth for Christ for two years in Indiana after graduating from college, then went on to seminary, worked for four years as a youth pastor at Harvest Church right here in Beaver Dam before seeing a bigger need for the youth of the entire community of Beaver Dam. I’ve always been most passionate about the entire town of Beaver Dam. There are so many youth in town who are either no longer involved in local churches or who have never had a church they would call “home.” Adults from churches can play such a powerful influence in the lives of teens and I am an example of one of those. This is what Campus Life is all about.
Youth for Christ (the national organization in which Campus Life is a ministry) has the motto “every young person, one at a time.” Their goal is to reach out to the teens in a community who have either been turned off by “organized religion” or who have never really been interested in anything having to do with the Christian faith. After connecting to the teens, the goal is to help them explore their faith and then ultimately get plugged into a local church to continue growing. The ministry attempts to be visible and available in teen’s lives consistently. We don’t want to wait for youth to come to us when they reach “rock bottom,” we want to reach out to them, establish a relationship and invest in their lives and also train them to invest in their peers lives. We do this through a number of different RMA’s or “Relational Ministry Aspects.” Some of these RMA’s include, Monday night Club, Student Leadership, Appointments with teens and families, Small Groups and an adult Steering Committee.
Club meets on Monday nights at 7:03pm in the upstairs of the Family Ice Center. Its purpose is to create an environment where kids who are not sure about what their feelings are about faith related things can seek out answers and just discuss where they are at without awkwardness. Student Leadership meets on Friday mornings before school at 6:50am and trains teens to have an impact in their peers by being supportive, caring and on the lookout for their peers who are struggling. There are a number of teens who are helped through appointments with either myself as the Campus Life Director, or one of my staff of four adult volunteers. And there are also small groups to get plugged into for teens who are interested in going even deeper into their faith. Finally, there is a Steering Committee of adults representing five different congregations who work behind the scenes to see this ministry grow and expand. We are currently at the early stages of looking to adopt a new ministry called “Teen Parent’s” that reaches out to pregnant teenagers and comes alongside of them in a practical and loving way. We’d love to eventually raise the funds to bring on a fulltime director for this position.
This is an incredible ministry that works as a stepping stone between teens who are completely disconnected to the churches and the youth ministries themselves. All aspects of this ministry continue to grow each year and meet with over 50 kids on a weekly basis between all aspects of the ministry. The more this ministry gains visibility and support from the local community the more teen’s lives it will continue to affect. I can give so many examples of teen’s lives who have been completely changed. One young lady had never set foot in a church before attending Campus Life as a junior. She now reads her Bible and is involved in church and growing in her faith. One young man had no belief in God whatsoever, and hated everything about Christianity. He is now involved in Christian ministries in college and wants to raise his children in a loving Christian home and be involved in Christian ministries. The stories are so powerful it’s hard not to smile or get a lump in your throat. It will be exciting to see where this ministry goes in the NEXT three years after such a power start to impacting so many teens in Beaver Dam. If you want to hear more about Beaver Dam Campus Life, feel free to contact me as the director of this ministry [Hans Gochenaur at (920) 344-9807]. In the meantime, stay tuned for more updates of how this ministry and ALL of the local churches are working to change the lives of teens in Beaver Dam. Ever heard of BD LIVES? You soon will…