Prepared to lead: Moran is student pastor at Lynwood Baptist Church

Sunday, January 23, 2011
Pastor Jeff Moran is student pastor at Lynwood Baptist Church in Cape Girardeau. (Fred Lynch)

Jeff Moran, the student pastor at Lynwood Baptist Church, assumed leadership roles in sports during high school and college. He said looking back he realizes these experiences were God's way of "preparing me to be a leader in his church." While Lynwood has ministries that cater to students of all ages, Moran focuses on students in seventh grade through the senior year of high school. Before joining the force at Lynwood in August 2009, Moran was student pastor at Central Baptist Church in Corbin, Ky., for 12 years.

How long have you been a member of your faith? When I was in sixth grade, I realized that I was separated from God because of my sin. I was selfish and lived life for myself. After realizing this, I did not surrender my life to God because I was afraid of what everyone in church was going to think about me since I had grown up there. But God continued to speak to my heart and after some time, I decided to confess my sin to God and allow Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior. After making that decision, I experienced the peace of God that comes from knowing that I have been forgiven and that I was in a right relationship with him. It was also at that time that I became a member of a Southern Baptist Church.

How did you become youth pastor of Lynwood Baptist Church? A mutual friend of mine and the Rev. Mark Anderson introduced us, and we began to discuss the possibility of me becoming the new student pastor. Through a process of much prayer and meeting with Mark and the Student Pastor Search Committee, God made it very clear that it was his will for my family. I came to Lynwood as the new student pastor in August 2009.

What do you see as one of the main purposes of the youth ministries department at the church? I used to believe that the main purpose of the student ministry was to introduce students to Jesus Christ and help them grow in a relationship with him. I think there is a shift that needs to happen in student ministries across the nation, and I see it slowly happening. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 indicates that it is the parents' responsibility to introduce their children to Jesus Christ and help them grow as a believer, not the church. Therefore, I believe that the student ministry needs to be a resource, encourager and equipper for parents in order to help them be the parents that God has called them to be. Our student ministry will still focus on students and showing them who God is and what he has done for them, but if we can have a spiritual effect on parents, we will have a much greater spiritual effect on students.

How do you keep the youth engaged in ministry activities? In order to keep students engaged in ministry activities, a student ministry must be genuine, relevant and build relationships with students. Students have an amazing ability to identify a fake, and, like most people, they do not want to be around someone who is not going to be real. A student ministry must remain relevant to students' needs, which are constantly changing. In order to know the needs of students, a ministry must have leaders who are willing to build relationships with students.

What would you deem as the greatest challenge that you have faced while overseeing the youth ministries department at your church? In the short 18 months that I have been here, the greatest challenge has been to build those relationships with students, leaders and parents. Building relationships does not happen overnight and takes effort and time. My wife and I have five children and so I must spend time with them as well as with students, leaders and parents. It is a challenge trying to balance everyone's needs.

As a youth pastor, you serve in a supportive role to the head pastor at Lynwood Baptist Church. Who supports you? Here at Lynwood, we have adult leaders who consist of parents, college students and young adults who love the Lord Jesus and care about students. These leaders are the backbone of the student ministry. Without them, the ministry would fail. God uses these leaders to teach his word, love on kids, help them in their struggles and celebrate their victories in life. Our ministerial staff, from the senior pastor to preschool director, are also a huge support along with our ministerial assistants who serve in the office on a daily basis. We know that we are in this ministry together and that God can accomplish so much more and we can glorify him by serving together instead of each of us trying to build our own individual ministry.

What would you say is the greatest achievement you have seen since taking this position? To me, the greatest achievement is when I have the opportunity to be a part of what God is doing in our midst. I love to watch God work in students' lives. I love to watch a "light bulb" come on in a students' mind and heart when they begin to understand and experience the promises of God in their own lives. Not because I have said so or because their parents have said so but because they have experienced God working in their lives. Sometimes these moments are few and far between and sometimes they happen all at once. But it is a thrill to be used by God to touch someone else's life.

Do any of the youth serve in a leadership role within your organization? There are a few opportunities to serve within our student ministry. We have a praise band that plays on Wednesday nights to lead us in worship. We also have students who run the sound booth for the praise team and provide media support on the computer so that the words of the songs can be displayed along with anything else that might need to be displayed during our time together. These students do a great job and are using their gifts and talents to serve the Lord in this way. Some of our students serve on our Youth Council team, which provides leadership to the whole student ministry. They serve on this team with other parents and ministry leaders.

What's your favorite verse and why? This is a hard question because at different times in my life, I have had different favorites depending on what has been happening around me. But since I have to pick a favorite, I will have to say it is Romans 10:9-10 (HCSB) which states, "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation."

I like this verse because it clearly states what a person must do in order to begin a relationship with God. First, you must believe in your heart that Jesus died on the cross for your sin and rose again on the third day conquering sin. Being a believer is so much more than just knowing the facts in your head. When you believe in something with your heart, it changes you and the way you act. Secondly, a person must confess Jesus as Lord. This means to make him the boss of your life. When these two things happen in a person's life, salvation is the result.

What events or occasions does your organization have coming up? Our ministry is gearing up for several things. On Feb. 17 to 20, we are participating in a Discipleship Now weekend with some other great churches and student ministries in the Cape/Jackson area. This weekend focuses on helping students to grow in their faith and introducing new students to Jesus. Our church is working together with Cape Bible Chapel, Fruitland Community Church, First General Baptist Church in Jackson, Crossroads Fellowship and New McKendree United Methodist Church in Jackson to put on this event. We will be going to the Dare 2 Share Conference on March 25 and 26 in St. Louis, which focuses on preparing and equipping students to share their faith in Jesus Christ with others. This summer, our student ministry will be going to Salvador, Brazil, to work with some missionaries there as well as attending summer camp at Crossings in Kentucky. Also this summer, our church as a whole will be going to Greenfield, Ill., to teach another church how to do their own Judgement House.

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