Christ is a verb and not a noun.
It’s the philosophy of Christianity being about love in action and not simply devotion and worship that is key to Calvary Community Church’s youth ministry.
And the importance of getting teens and youngsters to embrace such a way of life by building relationships to get closer to God is a top priority at Calvary Community Church.
It is why there was no hesitation when the congregation was asked what they thought the next expansion project should be at the North Lathrop Road house of worship – a new youth wing.
That addition – almost completely debt free – is designed to expand on Calvary Community’s vibrant youth ministry.
John Hoppis – Calvary’s youth minister – credits strong relationships that his youth minister cultivated when he was young with strengthening and solidifying his relationship with God.
“Young people are looking for answers just like everyone else,” Hoppis said.
Calvary Community helps youth find the answers by a pro-active approach that encourages teens to reach out to the community.
“A church goes beyond four walls,” Hoppis noted.
John Syler who serves as the Calvary youth director noted such outreach includes venturing to San Francisco to provide volunteer manpower for an annual Christmas program to visiting elderly residents at Palm Haven convalescent hospital.
The youth outreach programs are so successful that when sign-ups open the 100-plus spots are filled in minutes many times with youth who’ve never participated.
“They’ve heard about the program and want to be a part of it,” Syler said.
It’s endeavors like that – as well as things such as a widely popular in-church dinner theatre program staged by Calvary’s youth – that have built a strong youth ministry at the church.
“Building relationships is key,” Hoppis said.
Helping youth understand relations, the needs of others, and the importance of spirituality has taken Calvary teens to places such as Navajo Indian reservations and Bosnia to perform service and to get to know other people.
But as Hoppis noted, there is an effort to make youth understand the need is just as great in Manteca as it is in faraway places.
They also have stepped up to the plate for community service endeavors such as assisting with Memorial Day Weekend at Woodward Park and helping out together Operation Dizzy working with the Manteca Police Department to impress upon junior high kids the dangers of getting drunk.
The strategy of getting youth actively involved with outreach ministry as well as worship services is key to Calvary’s success.
“We give (youth) a chance to find out Christ is a verb and not a noun,” Syler said of encouraging teens and those younger to take an active role in doing the Lord’s work.
It is a two-way street for the youth ministers who make it a point to get out to see Calvary youth who are playing sports, performing in concerts or on the stage in play.
“It’s important that we are there for them,”” Hoppis said.
A good number of youth at Calvary have parents who worship elsewhere. In many cases, parents suggested their children attend Calvary due to the fact it has a contemporary youth program in place that is designed to relate to them.
The new youth wing allows for expansion plus centralizes activities while freeing up other space for the growing congregation. The main room has a contemporary industrial-look aimed to reflect the style of younger people.
Calvary Community has three Sunday morning worship services – at 8:30, 9:45 and 11 – plus a 6 p.m. contemporary service. A junior high service takes place concurrently with the 9:45 a.m. service while a high school service is concurrent with the 11 a.m. service.
Calvary Community is located at 815 W. Lathrop Road. More information is available by going to calvarymanteca.org or calling 239-1345.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org