Pastor places emphasis on substitution
When he was in high school, Jon Hicks regularly received kudos from his journalism teacher. Then he enrolled at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he was greeted with a rude awakening.
"The level that was expected of me in college was far greater than that of high school," said Hicks, who was recently hired on as youth minister with First Baptist Church in Katy and become the church's sixth minister on staff. It's Hicks fifth pastorate.
"I thought I was pretty hot stuff with my high school paper and other things I had done, and I had a rude awakening," Hicks said. "While at Baylor, I went there knowing I was going to be in ministry, but I liked writing so I decided to major in journalism. My high school made me think I was really good, and when I went to Baylor, I realized everyone was good, and it put me in my place."
Now, looking in the rearview mirror of his college education, Hicks sees God's hand at work, despite his academic struggles.
"It's amazing how often I use my background in journalism in the midst of doing ministry," he said. "It's sort of a reaffirmation to me that God can take these things and use it in a bunch of different areas, even in places I never thought Id use."
Part of what he hopes to accomplish at First Baptist is eventually turn loose the 100 seventh- through 12th-grade students under his ministerial charge to be examples of clear-thinking Christians in their schools and homes.
"We are going to teach solid, biblical truth and then turn the students loose and encourage them to live in mission in their own schools and their own family," said Hicks, meaning that sometimes for some, it will be moms and dads and for others, their brothers and sisters. "I think if we're teaching solid truth, that infectious love of Christ gets a hold of students. It's amazing what they do because they don't take no for answer."
"There are some cultural hurdles teens need to clear to stay on task in their Christian life," added Hicks. Among those challenges is the busyness of life, a shallow relationship with parents and being tethered too tightly to social media.
"I was a busy teenager, but I think students now are the busiest; it is heightened," said Hicks. "They have so many more opportunities, so much more pressure to grow up faster and do things sooner to achieve more."
Social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook lull teens into a false sense of what true relationships entail, said Hicks.
"It gives license to kids to say things they wouldn't say face to face, to pervert the truth," he said. "Relationship wise, it just adds another challenge to it."
Hicks has been in ministry for 15 years, and it has always involved youth in one manner or another.
"I think it's because that's where God did the most in my life," said Hicks. "He really got a hold of me as a teenager, and I'm acutely aware what God can do in a teenager's life."
Name: Jon Hicks
Occupation: Youth pastor at First Baptist Church
Community Connection: Responsible for discipling 100 students in the Christian life
Fast Fact: Hicks believes Christianity needs to be less flashy and more substitutive.
Quote: "I'm excited about opportunities and resources here, and the number of students to reach is astronomical. There's a great challenge and a lot of resources."
Paul R. Kopenkoskey is a freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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