When Steven and I joined the Youth Group team in Summer 2019, we were excited about many things: serving in a ministry together as husband and wife, the team itself of servant-hearted, Christ-centered individuals, and getting to know a demographic of our GRC family that, up until then, had flown under our radar.
What we didn’t realize was how deep into God’s word we would be going! It seems that teenagers (for any of you who have them, know them, or love them), are rather perceptive to hypocrisy, insincerity, and ingenuity, especially when it comes to things of God and his Church. As the weeks went by and we dove into the book of John with our high-schoolers, we found that we were going deeper and deeper into God’s word in our prep for lessons. On a teaching week, you would find us at home listening to sermons, devouring our Study Bible, asking the Lord for wisdom, guidance, clarity, and humility; all with the hope that God’s wonderful word would sink into these beloved teens and work in their hearts.
Around this same time, we Bourques became first acquainted, then friends, with our new next-door neighbors in Hackensack: a devout Muslim couple about our age. Our neighborly sidewalk conversations quickly turned to deeper matters of faith, questions of theology, etc. While we wouldn’t consider ourselves “immature/ignorant Christians”, there were some questions that made us double-check our theology! We needed to know exactly what we believed and what Scripture said, in order to share the true Lord with our neighbors. We found ourselves searching through our Bibles and our J.I. Packer Concise Theology, as well as spending time in concentrated prayer for wisdom, graciousness, and opportunity for sharing the Bible’s truth with our neighbor friends. We ate in each other’s homes, met at the park, exchanged Bible and Quran, and FaceTimed theology discussions. Though we have both since moved, God in his sovereignty provided us the opportunity to serve their family in a time of desperate need; this has bonded our families together and we pray will provide an open door for additional opportunities to share our lives and our faith.
All of this being said, we Bourques learned something that year. All of our time spent absorbing Sunday messages, Tuesday Bible Studies, private Scripture reading, growth groups, etc. – all of this hearing of the Word needed to result in sharing of the Word. For those of us who took the Perspectives class this Fall, one of our speakers commented as such, “Jesus did not call for converts; he called for disciples.” What he meant was that while converts are great (and necessary!) disciples, in turn, disciple others for a true, deep, and long-lasting love for the Lord and his Kingdom.
Our encouragement to you, dear church, would be to find a situation that gets you out of your “faith comfort zone”. Whether it be youth ministry or something else; an unbelieving friend at work, the unbelieving parents in your child’s soccer world, the neighbor on the other side of the political aisle – find someone that pushes you out of your comfortable Christian groove – someone who forces you to dig deeper into God’s word, that pushes you to address all questions through the lens of God-breathed Scripture; that makes you turn to the Lord in fervent prayer for his hand to work in the hearts of those who need to know him.
David Platt says in his book Radical that we as believers should live as if God’s Word is intended to spread through us. In John 17, Jesus said it better: that we, as believers, would be one in him, “so that the world may believe”. Whether it’s our dear high-schoolers, our Muslim neighbors, or whoever else God has put in your world, let us be the Lord’s disciples, not merely converts. Let us go forth into where he has placed us with a heart to make Him known.
Erika and Steven Bourque have been members of the GRC family since 2011. They have three (going on five) kids and serve in the Youth and Worship Arts Ministries.