Insyder: Tim Rutledge
Youth Pastor Name: Tim Rutledge
Youth Group Name: Refuge Student Ministries (This is our total group name, which consists of junior high—J-Crew, high school—the Rush, and college—the Bridge. All three are separate entities with their own coordinators/pastors.)
Church Name: The Pentecostals of Alexandria
Location: Alexandria, Louisiana
InsideOut: How many young people do you have?
Tim Rutledge: Not enough … to me it doesn’t matter, but to appease the readers and answer the question, around four hundred (non-evangelistically speaking).
IO: Average age?
TR: Seventh grade through twenty-four years of age.
IO: How many youth staff members do you have?
TR: Seventy-six, but my goal is a one-to-five ratio.
IO: What do you think is the coolest event you guys have put together for the Youth?
TR: Our annual retreats and feeding the elderly once a month.
IO: What do you do for outreach?
TR: We have block parties occasionally, but our greatest outreach effort is becoming a disciple of Christ and leading others in the process as we grow. It’s a process; it takes time and is very intentional. It’s not about numbers or a “cool” event; it’s about true discipleship. It’s more than bringing people to youth group; it’s about actually becoming a part of their lives and living the example of Christ before them and then leading them to Him. It takes time and intentional effort.
IO: What is your youth group’s claim to fame? (If you’re gonna brag on your youth group, you’re going to say …?)
TR: They truly understand worship and realize it is not confined to the four walls of the church. (Thank God for Johnathan Dean.)
IO: What do you do to retain those who join your youth group? Bible Studies? Small groups?
TR: Small groups are a major part of our student ministry. We also have our own orientation class called the “Summit” and a discipleship class called “Dive.”
IO: Is there a “hangout” for your youth outside of church?
TR: Yeah, right! Remember, it’s Alexandria. We are a semi-urban community in the Deep South. There is nothing but church. Our students are very active in our community and our schools.
IO: Do you guys do crowd breakers or is that a thing of the past?
TR: No crowd breakers on the high school and college levels, but our junior high ministry will occasionally start their service with some. It is under the leadership of Chris and Jen Endsley. (Thank God for Chris and Jen Endsley.) This is definitely a team ministry.
IO: Do you meet on the same night as the midweek service for the whole church? What day is that?
TR: Yes, we meet on Wednesday nights. Our student ministry has three separate services happening simultaneously: J-Crew, the Rush (RushHour) and the Bridge twice a month, which is under the direction of Tim and Gail Waters. They all have full bands and staffs.
IO: Do you guys have a youth choir?
TR: Yes, we do.
IO: Do you have a worship band? What style do they play?
TR: Yes, we do, and it varies in style from totally acoustic to a full band. As for style, our worship leader, Johnathan Dean, keeps the mindset of today’s current sound and goes with the flow of the message for the service. (Again, thank God for … well, you get the picture.)
IO: What style of music does your youth group like?
TR: These are students we’re talking about, so I would say all of the above. And heaven forbid, some even like country style, can you imagine that? Welcome to the South.
IO: In your services, have many young people received the Holy Ghost?
TR: Constantly. If they didn’t, I’d quit.
IO: Do you have a prayer meeting for the youth?
TR: Yes. Our high school/college levels meet on Thursday nights and total student group prayer is Sundays at 5:00 PM. Also, our students participate in monthly three-hour prayer shifts.
IO: As a youth pastor, what is your vision for your Youth/Student Ministry?
TR: It’s not about numbers and judging success by how many we can cram into our services. It’s not about how much “stuff” we do. It’s about living the life of a disciple of Christ, which consists first of knowing Him, then following Him, and representing Him. Evangelism, reading the Word, prayer, and involvement are all byproducts of discipleship. What I mean by that is if we become true disciples, then all of these things will become natural products of who we are. Thus, it will become our identity.