We have a lot of great things happening on the Youth Ministry front in the Heartland District, so we are introducing youth workers from throughout the District to honor their efforts. This month meet Michelle Gray, an amazing woman with unwavering passion for helping students know Christ and to belong to a community. She serves at Evart United Methodist Church in the Heartland District.


How long have you been in youth ministry?

I have been the youth director at the Evart United Methodist Church for almost a year and a half.  Before I started the youth group I was volunteering at a program called Higher Ground that serves the less fortunate in our community.  I was assigned to teach the teen class.  I had no idea how close I would become to all of them in that eight weeks.  During the last few weeks of the Higher Ground session I knew that I needed to do more for these teens.  I began praying about it and felt God’s calling to start a youth group at our church.

Tell us about your program…
The Evart United Methodist youth group, EXTREME, is a group of teens in grades 6-12.  The majority of our youth are from low income households so they do not have the best home lives.  Our program tries to meet these kids and their families “where they are” and provide whatever resources we can to help them.   Therefore at EXTREME we strive to create an environment where these kids can feel not only safe, but accepted and loved while learning about Jesus.
What’s your favorite thing about working with young people?
My favorite thing about working with EXTREME has been watching the group bond and seeing them forming relationships with each other inside and outside of youth.
Can you talk about a challenge you’ve faced in ministry and how you overcame it?
The biggest challenge I have faced and overcome as a youth leader is realizing that I cannot rescue these teens from all of their problems.  I am someone that tends to want to change/fix people and I prefer it to be done quickly.  Through the past year and a half God has taught me to stop, take a breath and to understand that sometimes I will not “fix” everyone, but that I am planting seeds in their lives that will be sown at a later time.
What do you know now that you wish you’d always known about youth ministry?
This may sound cliche, but I really wish I had known how awesome this “job” would be!  If I would have known how much I love working with the youth, I would have started a youth group 25 years ago!!  These kids are so much fun and they give me and my team so much joy.  I love watching them growing every week in their relationships with each other, their relationships with the church and mostly their relationship with Jesus.  They rock!!!!
Thank you Michelle for sharing a part of your story and for all of the countless hours and energy you’ve put towards spreading the love of Jesus Christ to the “Now Generation!”