Stories_web_title_jess

WATCH HER FULL STUDENT LEADER JOURNEY VIDEO BELOW:

SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM FOR THE FULL INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT.

Stories_web_quote_jess

SO WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

Here at Mustard we believe that any student anywhere can make a Kingdom impact at their school when they choose to step out in faith, just like Jess did! Why not take your step to become a student leader with Mustard?

No longer a student? You can still encourage and support students stepping out in faith as a school chaplain or church leader! Check out how we can help.

I-am-a-student_test_1
I-am-a-school_test
I-am-a-parent_church
Stories_web_bottom

PART 1

What was it like being a Christian at school before you started/joined a Lunchtime Group?

So before leading SPARK which is the name of my Christian Lunchtime Group, I really felt like there wasn’t a space for me to talk about my faith and I’d often feel quite uncomfortable sharing it with others.

Why did you decide to start/lead a Mustard Lunchtime Group?

After realising that our school didn’t have a place that was specifically supportive of Christians, my co-leader and I both decided to create some sort of safe space where all the Christians at my school were able to gather, meet each other and talk about our love for Jesus.

How did you find the experience starting (or taking over) a Lunchtime Group?

Initially, it was quite daunting, and I wasn’t a very confident public speaker myself which was really hard for me because all of our SPARK sessions required me to lead discussions. But I think that over time I definitely developed my confidence in public speaking, and this experience became more and more rewarding when people started to say they were inspired during the sessions.

What were some challenges of starting a group and how did you get through them?

At first, it was mostly getting people to come. We started off only with a couple of members, but I think that personally reaching out to everyone at our school and the people we knew who would be interested in coming. Also specifically catering our sessions to what they wanted to do. For example, if they had a particular topic they wanted to talk about, then we would cater the session towards what they wanted. I think that really helped grow our group.

PART 2

What were you like as a leader when you started? What steps did you take to grow your leadership?

I think when I first started off as a leader, I was the type of person to have a very clear idea of what exactly I wanted every session to look like. So I would plan every session according to what I thought would be best but, over time, I started realising the value of taking other’s opinions into consideration as well and allowing others to direct the flow of the conversation and I think that this really helped in terms of growing my leadership – really listening to others and taking others feedback into what I was doing.

What did your group look like when it first started?

So when my group first started, a lot of people who came were atheists and they didn’t really know much about God but they were asking lots of questions, which was quite a good sign.

What did you do when you met together as a group? Why are those important to your group?

So when we first met together as a group we had a few icebreaker surface level conversions, but then we also went deeper into really meaningful conversations and we would often have these circles where everyone would share their opinion and then we would go deeper into the issues that we wanted to talk about and I think that this was really valuable for our group because not only were we able to all share our opinions on specific topics but we were also able to learn from others in the group and learn from other’s opinions as well. So, yeah. This was really important as it was one of our main goals: which was to make sure everyone learns more about Christianity.

How did the group change and/or grow over time?

As I mentioned earlier, our group started off as being predominantly atheists but I could tell that, as time went on, the nature of these people’s questions started becoming deeper and also a lot of people were saying that they felt as if they were growing closer to God during this period of time. So, yeah, I think our grow did undergo a lot of spiritual growth, which I’m really happy about.

PART 3

What motivated you to keep going throughout your time leading a group?

I think it was really the individual feedback or the individual comments that we received from the people in our group that really motivated us. They were saying about how they were looking forward to coming and how they really liked having this space and having this environment to talk about their faith and a lot of people were also saying that they found the sessions really meaningful and really engaging as well so, I guess every time someone said something like that it really motivated us to keep going because we knew it was really rewarding, what we were doing.

In what ways did your group encourage each other in their relationship with God?

So at the end of every session we would have a prayer circle and we would pray for each other’s needs and during our sessions, we encouraged one another to read the Bible and also pray and we would also encourage one another to just, ask more questions about God and get to know God better.

In what ways did your group connect with other Christians/non-Christians outside the group?

So, in 2019 we had this event that we called Pancake Day and basically what we did was our SPARK lunchtime group, we helped to cook pancakes which were distributed for free for people who wrote a question on a sticky note about Christianity or something they wanted to find out about God and we answered these questions in the next SPARK session and I think this really helped connect these people to not only our group but also to God as well.

Tell us a story of how you saw God work in your group!

During the COVID-19 lockdown, my co-leader and I were kind of worried about whether we would still get the same level of participation in our group. But thankfully, I think that God has blessed us so much with how, actually, double the amount of normal people came to our sessions and so yeah, I was really grateful for this because a lot more people were able to learn more about God during this period of time.

PART 4

How did you ensure that your group kept going after you graduated?

We reached out to someone else we knew (who was Christian) in a younger year level and we invited her to SPARK and also to a couple of Mustard events, such as the zoom meetings.

How have you grown personally throughout your journey of leading a group?

I think that apart from improving my confidence and my public speaking skills I’ve also developed in terms of my perspective, so understanding the role that I have to play in inspiring other people in their faith and also really developing the ability to see where everyone was at in their walk with God and knowing exactly what to say to encourage them and what sort of spiritual advice they needed at that particular time and I think that, throughout this whole process I also managed to grow closer to God, so I’m happy about that.

What is ONE piece of advice you would give to someone who is thinking of starting a group?

I’ll say that, even if you have any feelings of doubt or insufficiency, be it, maybe your social skills or your ability to lead a group, I’d say, don’t be afraid to go for it, because God will work through you and you’ll be able to grow and develop so much throughout this experience, and at the end of the day, it will be so rewarding because this is really impactful on people’s lives and a lot of people will end up changing because of what you do. So, yeah, I think it’ll be a really rewarding experience, one that you remember for the rest of your life so, yeah, go for it!