“It’s a win-win,” says Kris Loewen about Walla Walla University student involvement with High Five. Loewen, University Church pastor for children and family ministries, oversees a small army of college students who each volunteer three to five hours a week with High Five, a midweek and Sabbath gathering of junior high students.
Zach Parks, senior theology and music major, works with Loewen as a High Five director. Parks meets regularly with other students to plan events. He also manages activities at weekly gatherings and spends several hours each week just being available to the kids.
The goal of High Five is for junior high students to get to know Jesus better and to be inspired to do life with Him. “The exciting thing about involving college students,” says Loewen, “is that they are cool people who love Jesus, and the junior high students want to be like them.”
Parks says he has been surprised to learn how much time and effort it takes to implement even simple events. “I have also learned that it is entirely worth it," he adds. "Investing time and effort in the lives of people is never, ever a waste.”
We often hear people bemoan that young adults are not part of the church anymore, says Loewen. “This collaboration between the University Church and WWU may be one small part of making that right,” he says. “My sense is that the more engaged students are in the life of the church, the more likely they are to be involved in their local church when they graduate and end up in a different city.”