BERKELEY — Hundreds of students from under-resourced churches have received theological and apologetics training as a result of InterHigh, a ministry of Gracepoint Church in Berkeley.
Gracepoint is a multi-ethnic congregation that started one block away from the University of California, Berkeley in 1981. It has since started numerous churches in college towns across the United States, and even one in Hsinchu, Taiwan.
Many of the church’s outreach efforts are geared toward investing in young adults.
“InterHigh is a ministry where we send youth ministers and youth workers to small ethnic churches where the primary language of the parent generation is not English,” said Matthew Kim, a bivocational minister who served as InterHigh ministry lead for the past year. “The children do not speak their parents’ language a lot of times, and the parents may not have someone who speaks English well enough to teach, so there can be a lot of disconnect between the younger generation and older generation.”
Many of the InterHigh leaders — Kim included — grew up in similar situations, so they have a keen understanding of the unique challenges the students face.
Since its inception in 2009, the ministry has continued to grow. Gracepoint currently sends 45-50 leaders to surrounding churches every Sunday to run youth programs, including Bible studies, small groups and fellowship times. The leaders develop long-term relationships with the youth, and continue to work with the church as long as there is a need. The youth groups typically range from three to 15 students.
InterHigh also hosts retreats twice per year during which youth from each of the churches come together for theological training and fellowship.
“There are staggering statistics of students who go to college and stop going to church,” Kim said. “They are not necessarily equipped to defend their faith. They learned (about the Bible) in Sunday school, but as they grow their faith doesn’t match the needs of a high school or college student.”
The goal of the ministry is to foster a strong enough basis of faith that the youth are prepared to withstand the inevitable challenges they will face in college and beyond, Kim said.
Many of the students keep in contact with their InterHigh youth leaders even after they graduate and move on to college or a career.
“To hear that (the students) are continuing in their faith is very rewarding,” Kim said. “And the words of appreciation we hear from the parents and the pastors are very rewarding as well.”
The greatest challenge the ministry faces is not being able to offer help to every church in need, Kim said. In order to meet the vast demand, he said he would love to see other churches develop similar ministries.
“Being able to provide youth workers to every church that is under-resourced would be great,” Kim continued. “And it doesn’t have to be just through our church. This ministry can absolutely be replicated.”
Kim and the InterHigh team are grateful for the opportunity to be part of God’s work through this ministry.
“We feel privileged that we get to do this,” he said. “God led us to different churches and opened doors for us. He deserves all the glory.”
(For more about student ministry in California visit www.csbc.com/students).