Why We Do It.

Last weekend, on a Sunday night, Marion High School opened it’s doors to 300 people who came to worship the Lord at an Enlightened event. In the small city of Marion, Indiana, we saw hundreds of students being serious about their faith in their school. God spoke to us about helping those in need and being the ‘Good Samaritan’ to our peers in our schools. The people you’d least expect were called to step out and be courageous for the Lord. We were empowered and inspired by the testimonies and songs shared by high school students from this school. This event changed the atmosphere at their school and in this city. We praise God for speaking to us so clearly on March 13, 2016 at Enlightened Marion. What started at a school called Byron Center High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan is now an event happening in different schools and students who strive to bring Christ on their campus. What a joy it is to remember where we’ve come and where we are going!

God had a plan for Byron Center High School since before time began. He knew that Enlightened would be planted there as a seed only to grow into more schools, more states, and impact more young people’s lives. He knew that lives would be saved, people would be called into ministry, and lives would be restored in His name. The number of people who showed up to the testimonies shared were no surprise to our great Father. He made us to move and work for His glory. As students gathered to worship two years ago in a high school auditorium, we felt the atmosphere change in that building.

It was worshipping together with brothers and sisters of Christ that changed our perspective on how we are to worship. We weren’t worshipping in our comfortable box with the people we knew well in youth group. We were praising our Father in a high school with hundreds of other high schoolers from many different schools, homes, and faith backgrounds. It was Jesus that brought us together and it was Jesus that was glorified.

The reason I believe in Enlightened is because I long for the days when I can worship my God with my peers in uncomfortable situations. I long for the day we can go out of our comfort-zones and give God all we have because He deserves that and more. It was incredible to experience a worship time that wasn’t about us for a change. It was great to look around the room and see people truly moved by God not the songs. God’s hand is over this ministry and I know He is continuing to see His plan unfold in the years following that first event.

The definition of event is, “a thing that happens, especially one of importance”. We remember events and we look back to them. Can you remember the first time you went to school? Or the day you got your license? If you’re a Christian, do you remember the day you turned your life around and gave it all to Jesus? Do you remember those significant moments in your life? Of course you do! They are things of importance that have changed your life forever. They change the way we think and act and speak. They give us new perspectives and new insights on how to be better and become the person we always strive to be.

The most important event to me is not Enlightened. It is not when I first learned to ride a bike or drive a car. The most important event that has affected my life deeply was Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection three days later. Yes, I realize I just gave you two events but they go hand in hand! Jesus didn’t just die, He rose from the dead! And when He did, He saved us from sin and death. That is good news and that is the reason we do everything. It is the reason we have thankful hearts. It is the reason we go out of our way to help a neighbor with a chore. It is the reason we give to the homeless and abandoned. This good news is the reason we wake up and take on the day with a different mindset. It is the reason Enlightened started.

Enlightened is a ministry started by high school students that is devoted to supporting and equipping high school students to lead an event full of worship and story telling at their school for their community. These events are for high school students to encourage their peers to be the salt and light in this generation. We focus on schools and hold these events at schools because we believe, as students, that it is the biggest mission field God has given us in this season of our lives. There is a story to tell; the event where Jesus died for our sins has affected our lives. We need to share this event with our friends! Because if we know how great our lives became after we experienced Jesus in our lives, we know we ought to share it with the rest of the world. The Gospel gives us a mission to go and tell the world. We want to invite our peers to join us as we live for this mission!

Why young people? Why students?

Students are cool. Students are passionate. Students care a lot about what they choose to care about. And students have more power in this world than they know. I had the privilege of working alongside many students in planning Enlightened events. I got to see how God has gifted each one of them to contribute a special part to Kingdom Work in their schools. Some students loved talking to people so they greeted students at the doors of their event. Other students loved technology so they ran the slideshow for lyrics and videos during their event. There were even some students that took on the responsibility of raising money for materials needed for their event. God used every single person on each Enlightened Crew (the whole group of student leaders) to leave a prominent impact on their high school’s campus.

Enlightened birthed and grew because God planned for students to do big things for Him. We see Him continue to call and equip high schoolers to lead Enlightened events at their schools now. The process is not easy. It is not a road easily followed. But it is a good road, because through it all, we get to experience God’s work in us. His provision through the planning process of an event is surreal. From financial issues to filling in spots for a team, God provided. He is the Provider, and we’ve seen why He is called Provider.

God has a plan. And for now, Enlightened is continuing to grow and seek out opportunities to reach the Gospel to young people everywhere. We love what we do and we are so thankful that God allows us to be apart of the journey.

Matthew 5:13-16  

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town build on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Enlighten Your School 2015!

I don’t know how many of you know a lot of my story or about something I was apart of called ‘Enlightened’, but I felt led to share about it today for whoever needs to hear (or in this case read) it. Enlightened is a student led worship event that takes place in high schools. I felt God call me to start an event like this the summer before my senior year of high school. It was a big task that I saw ahead of me but I knew that God’s hand was over this dream and this calling as I saw Him work so clearly through the whole process of planning a student led event at my school.

Myself and a group of 11 other high school students decided to take on the challenge and flip our school upside down with an awesome event! We decided that the night be called Enlightened because of what Matthew 5:13-16 says. We wanted our school to know how we could be the salt and light in this generation.

For this event, I felt called to share my testimony of how God had called me to be different as a Christ follower in the past and how He is still always calling me to stand for my faith. I got to share my story at our first event and challenge my peers to listen to God’s calling and to physically respond that night by grabbing a candle in the front of the room to shine as a symbol of a commitment they made. In that room full of 600 students and adult leaders, we saw hundreds of candles break through the darkness as students made a wide variety of commitments to God at a school campus. We believed that our location was so significant because that is our mission field as students. We needed to invite God in this place because it is where so many people needed to see Him. We were and are called to bring a light to the darkness in our schools.

God started opening doors ever since our first event. He exceeded our expectations of how many would show up and the amount of response we got afterwards. While talking to a few students after our first Enlightened event, a few approached us and said that they wanted to see Enlightened happen at their school. Our small team of high school students that had planned this event had never thought about it going anywhere else. But as we heard more students say they wanted to see Enlightened happen again, we saw God bringing more opportunities to spread this message that He had laid on our hearts. We could challenge more of our peers with this message to be the salt and light in this generation!

Enlightened will always be one of my best memories. The first event we held in my high school was my favorite day because it was the start of something new in my life and in many other students’ lives. It was a night where God brought us all together to call us to a life lived for a bigger purpose. At following events, it still never got old. I loved hearing testimonies and singing some awesome worship songs and seeing the lights brighten the room where we gathered. It is always exciting because students are realizing this: God is calling us to do big things in our lives to ultimately make this world a better place. This world needs Him and God wants to use us, right now, to tell everyone about Him! And as students, we don’t believe we have to wait until we are adults to make a difference. We can start now with where God has placed us. We have heard this calling and want more students to hear it as well!

I am very excited for next year because of the doors that God continues to open for Enlightened. This summer, I traveled with NTS Camp to share with hundreds of students about what Enlightened is and how they can be apart of it. I thought since so much has happened with Enlightened even just this summer, I would fill you all in about what next year will look like!

Right now, we are inviting students to join this movement of worship and prayer in high schools and are challenging them to bring Enlightened to their schools. If a student feels called to lead this student led worship event at their school, they can now go to our website, enlightenyourschool.com, and click the ‘Sign Up’ tab to receive information about making ‘Enlightened’ happen at their school. For the past 5 months, me and a few people that were apart of Enlightened in the past, have been dedicating time and resources to making a booklet for students that want to lead an event at their school. These students that take on this challenge are called Student Event Organizers. After a Student Event Organizer signs up online, they receive this booklet that acts as a guide on how to plan a successful event at their school!

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This Enlightened booklet explains how to get together a team, provides layouts and timelines, and helps guide these student leaders as they take on this challenge during a busy school year. I am very excited for students to have this booklet in their hands this year because it has a lot of good information that we have used for our past events. This booklet serves as a guide but was also written to be encouraging to the students that decide to lead an event. I believe in this generation and in my peers and want them to know the impact and legacy they can leave with what they decide to do with their lives now. That is what I hope students get from reading these packets.

We hope for many schools next year, that have and haven’t been apart of Enlightened before, can see students rising up to the challenge to be the “salt and light in this generation” by inviting God into their schools. At an Enlightened event, the focus is to challenge and encourage our peers to be real with their faith at school but to also cry out to God on their school campus. This is a place where we need God most.

So as we venture into this new season of life and ministry, I invite you to pray. We are looking forward to the Enlightened events already lined up for next fall and want to see even more schools be apart of this movement. And if you are a high school student that wants to plan an Enlightened event at your school, I encourage you to go to enlightenyourschool.com and sign up! You will immediately be connected with one of our team members who has been apart of Enlightened before. They would love to walk you through the planning process and make sure that you can get one of our packets of information for a life-changing experience at your school.

I also want to throw something else out there at you. If you are someone that wants to invest into something like this, we would appreciate anyone that can help us print out more booklets for future Student Event Organizers to have! It takes a good amount of money to be able to make them and distribute them to students. If you are interested, go to our website and go to the ‘Contact’ tab and send us a message! This is something to pray about as we head into this next year, that God will continue to provide for those booklets. We know that He will!

Thank you to all you have encouraged me and supported Enlightened as a ministry. I am anticipating a great year and have been praying that God continues to do great things in high school students. As I now head off to college, I will hold dear the memories I made praying, planning, and worshipping with fellow believers in my school for these events. I know that God is going to continue to do great things in my old high school and many others. God is so good!!!

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See you next year at Enlightened 2015 events!!

Enter In And Go OUT.

Worship is such a big word. It holds so much within it. Think about the many ways that we can worship. In song, in prayer, through serving, through obeying God… Worship is not just a song being sung by a worship leader. It is how we live our lives.

When we sing songs in church or at summer camp or a retreat, we love the songs and the feeling we get when we are worshiping with others. We are in a safe place. We are in a building protected by the four walls around us, dedicated to making a place for us to freely worship. So often those walls become real in our lives. So often we forget the freedom in worship and create a box for our worship. We limit our worship to those walls that we call church and to those places where God is the normal thing to talk about.

I want to see something different. I want to see worship walking around the streets of our cities and our communities. I want to see our hearts displayed for all to see. They are displayed in everything we do. And if Jesus is in our hearts,  we have an opportunity to show everyone just how great He is.

He deserves our worship. He deserves so much more than we could ever give. We know of what He has done yet there is so much more that He has done, is doing, and is going to do FOR us that we don’t even know about. Everything He does is FOR us. He never wants to harm us but is always looking out for us. He loves us with a love that we don’t fully understand. Because if we understood that love, we would never stray. If we were fully aware of how deep the Father’s love is for us, we wouldn’t go looking for it in other things.

Dig deep in His love. Worship Him for that love. Worship Him even when it doesn’t feel like there is anything to be thankful for. God is always doing good and has been doing good in your life since before time began. There are so many reasons to worship Him.

I want to encourage you to step out of the box with your worship. Don’t limit it to a song. But take that song and share it with others. Make this “song” catchy so that its stuck in people’s heads.

Worship is when you take what has happened in the church out the doors. If you are just lifting your hands and singing in there, you are putting your faith in a box. Yes, that can even happen to regular church-goers. It can become routine. It’s easy to save your worship just for a Sunday morning. Don’t. Take it with you when you walk out the church doors. Bring it everywhere you go. Let this fire you have in your worship be contagious. Spread His LOVE to the nations through the small and big ways you can worship God with your life.

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Worship. Even when it doesn’t feel like there is anything to praise Him for, we can ALWAYS worship Him for His unfailing love.