When Lisa and Mark Kosters' youngest son, Ben, got involved in his community soccer team, they wanted to be intentional in inviting his friends to their rural home for more meaningful connections. That desire became a homegrown youth group focused on Bible study, fun activities, and service projects. They met biweekly throughout 2017-2018; in July, nine of the 15 teens attended a SERVE trip with the Kosters’ home church, Grace Christian Reformed Church in Burke, Va. It was one of the largest contingents the small church has ever sent to the annual youth mission experience.
Grace CRC has been part of the Kosters’ homegrown youth group in other ways. As they were planning the Neighborhood Youth Group, Alex Dubay, a young man at Grace CRC, was being considered for the youth director position at Grace. The Kosters approached him to help with games and overall support to get them started. Dubay accepted both offers. Lisa said he helped to “lead Capture the Flag games, ping pong tournaments, and other helpful ways of connecting with the kids.”
The Kosters’ group however, which meets in their Midland, Va., home, is an entity separate from Grace CRC. The kids who attend come from their “neck of the woods”—about 34 miles (55 km) from Burke, part of the Washington D.C. metro area—and not necessarily from Grace. It's a unique situation that is still evolving according to God's design and plan, noted the leaders.
“Most of the kids of this youth group already attend a church, but appreciate the small group setting and focused Bible study,” as well as additional fellowship with the team, the Kosters said.
"Since we don't have many kids at our church it's been a great way to talk about God with other kids my age," Ben said.
After the SERVE experience this summer, the Neighborhood Youth Group is excited about a new season of study and service. “The Spirit was at work in a very powerful way, and the kids came back moved, each in a different way, to continue the momentum generated at SERVE,” Lisa said.