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Church Partner Story

How one Youth Group used communal storytelling to spark honest conversations about God, truth, and awkward teenage crushes.

Names: Stephen Ray / Mickayla Parrack
Organization Type: Multi-Ethnic Church
Ministry Titles: Youth Pastor / Associate Youth Pastor
Ministry Size: 350 students
Student Ages: Middle School & High School

I was never into comics as a kid...

So when I heard the term ‘interactive webcomic’, I wasn’t sure that I even knew what that meant.

At the time, I was just beginning to find my rhythm in a new city (Denver, CO), as the new youth pastor of a large, inter-denominational church.  I’d also just brought on a new associate youth pastor several weeks earlier.  We both had a mountain of work ahead of us and very little wiggle-room in our schedules.  Yet somehow, we found ourselves sitting in on a ministry tool demo about a Christian comic book created by a local youth volunteer.

A few minutes into The Way (of Yahweh) Webcomic demo, we were excited to hear that it was a Gospel-inspired, choose-your-own-adventure story, created specifically for teens.  Not only that, but the story was designed so that students could experience it from either of the two main hero’s perspective (A teen boy, and a teen girl).  At that time, we thought it looked cool, but weren’t completely sold on the idea.

 

THINGS WE HAD TO CONSIDER

Being a pastor at a multi-cultural, multi-economic, inter-denominational church is a beautiful gift. But with that gift, comes a vast array of needs, interests, and concerns that are expressed from the people under your care.  Because of that, it’s extremely difficult to find ministry tools that work for all our teens.

In addition, many of us in youth ministry have seen countless ideas, tools, and resources we were certain would connect with teens, utterly fail.  And when it’s all said and done, we need ministry tools that work. We want our teens to feel connected to God, to their church, and to each other. So we need to know that our methods are successfully engaging, empowering, and uniting our teens.  That said, we decided to give it a try, and set a date for our first ‘Guild Night’, where we planned to dive into the story with our teens.

 

OUR TOP 3 MINISTRY CONCERNS:

#1. Will our students be interested?
#2. Will students of all learning abilities be able to read and enjoy the story?
#3. How does this work in a COVID environment?

“It was so good for students to hear the range of opinions shared in our group discussions.”

Mickayla, Associate Youth Pastor

THE ‘GUILD NIGHT’ EXPERIENCE

We’ve done several group events in the past, but the Guild Night experience was unlike any other.  The Way (of Yahweh) Webcomic turned out to be so much more than just an interactive story.  The experience had students up, moving around, and excited to share their thoughts and opinions with their peers.  The story was teen-friendly and sparked engaging conversations that revolved around the difference between truth and belief, how we’ve handled (and at times mishandled) being lied to, and embarrassing accounts of teenage crushes.  It was an enjoyable evening for both our students and volunteers.

Coming out of the Guild Night, we found that students weren’t just ready to be seen and heard, but that they also wanted to hear the thoughts and beliefs of others.  We were absolutely thrilled to see this, and were excited that friendships were being forged, and God-centered questions were being asked.

 

SOMETHING UNEXPECTED

What surprised us most was not that students were engaged in the webcomic, but–in some cases–which students were engaged in the webcomic.  We saw all of our teens (including those that we never thought would be into comics) enjoying and actively engaging with the story.  What soon became clear was that it wasn’t just about the story, but how the story related to their lives.  It made us realize that, if we want our students to get the most out of the stories we share (via sermons for example), then we need to take more intentional steps toward being a part of their stories, too.

At the end of the day, we as youth leaders need more ways to connect with our teens and show them that they are loved, their ideas are valued, and that God will be with them always — no matter how complicated their life circumstances are.  The Way (of Yahweh) Webcomic made that clear to our teens, and now, they just want to know what happens next!

The Results.

STUDENT
RE-ENGAGEMENT

20 %

Surveyed students who hadn’t been at youth group in over 6 months

STUDENT
APPROVAL

92 %

Surveyed students who said they want a Story Guild in their Youth Group

WOULD CONSIDER
INVITING A FRIEND

60 %

Surveyed students who said they’d consider inviting a friend to the next ‘Guild Night’

“Students don't just want to read a story; they want to be part of a story, and see themselves in it. The Way (of Yahweh) nails this!”

Stephen Ray – Youth Pastor

Bring The Way (of Yahweh) Webcomic to your church or youth organization!  Request a FREE demo below to begin!

“Group Lore’s commitment to quality and innovative storytelling totally hits the mark for today’s students.”

Steve McBeth  |  Former President of Disney Interactive