An Interview with Summit Students Mentors Blake and Renee Hargrove
Blake and Renee Hargrove have been a part of the Summit Crossing family for ten years. They have two young sons and have faithfully served the church, even as their family grew and life got busy - so we want to find out what keeps them coming back! Read on for a peek into the Hargrove's heart for Summit Students.
How did you get involved with Summit Students?
Renee: I was interested in serving young people before we came to Summit Crossing, and I helped out with the youth at my church while home from college on summer break. After we joined Summit Crossing, I remember going to lunch with the student director at the time after church one day in 2010. I started sitting in on a students group the next month.
Blake: About five years ago, Paul taught a sermon that was very convicting to me. He proposed a question: "Are you a leech to the church?" Yep, up until that point, I was a consumer of the church, not pouring anything back in. I could not discern any specific spiritual gifting in myself, so my natural place to begin serving was the parking team. I felt like I needed to get more involved, so I decided to join Renee in Summit Students.
Did you have any fears or reservations about serving as student mentors?
R: Yes! I didn't feel qualified or equipped at all. I didn't know much of the Bible, having grown up in a church that didn't teach or disciple well. I didn't feel like I was spiritually mature enough to lead anyone! I also didn't think they'd like me much, either, because I've never been the cool kid.
B: Yep, I certainly had some fears. I didn't feel like I was equipped spiritually or mentally to be stepping into a mentor role. I didn't think I fit the mold in what I thought a youth mentor should be.
What gifts do you feel equip you well for serving students?
R: None in particular, and all of them! Really you must feel called; God will use whatever gifts he's given you. All leaders have different gifts, and they're all used. That's also one of the many reasons there is more than one leader for each DNA group. It's great to see how my co-leader and I balance each other. I'm better with teaching, and my co-leader has the gift of mercy.
B: My initial response was, I've got none, and I don't "relate" to the guys as I'm twice their age. Over time, there are three gifts that I believe God has revealed in me: Wisdom, leadership, and exhortation. Being a little older than these guys, and having gone through things that they've either gone through or will go through has been beneficial. Having built relationships with these guys, we have influence in their lives, especially in this encouraging environment.
What is your favorite part about being a mentor?
R: Seeing the growth in students, especially if we get to stay with the same DNA group for more than a year. I love seeing them deepen their faith, and helping them bond and form strong, gospel-centered relationships that last long past high school graduation.
B: I enjoy building gospel-centered relationships with these guys during a pivotal period in their life. It's a humbling experience to see these young men grow in their relationship with God while at the same time seeing how God uses them to grow me in my walk with God.
What are you most looking forward to this fall in student ministry?
R: My girls have been together two full years now. They are beginning to form tight relationships, and they are starting to own their faith! Middle school is when they begin to question if they believe all of the things their parents, teachers, and pastors have been telling them. I didn't have a "safe" place to ask questions in middle school. I remember thinking, "I've grown up in the church. I should have these answers. No one else is asking." So I didn't ask. Our students have the opportunity to ask anything and not feel judged or stupid for it. I'm looking forward to seeing them lean on their faith, take ownership, and grow together.
B: This fall is a rarity for our DNA group in particular, as we've got a smaller group of guys. I'm looking forward to building strong relationships with these few, and getting more involved in their lives (going to events, meeting more than once a week on Sundays, etc.). It is going to stretch both me as a mentor and the students we get to disciple.
What advice would you give someone new to Summit Crossing about getting involved?
R: Just do it. Jump in! If you wait to feel ready, you'll never do it.
B: Jump in. If you're a member, you need to be serving in some capacity. Seeing how God works through the church body is both rewarding and sanctifying.
What keeps you coming back year after year?
R: I began working with Summit Students to help girls find and root their identity in Christ before going out into the world. In high school and college, I was around many girls who were making decisions that would have lifelong consequences. It was heartbreaking to watch, and it all came down to girls trying to gain acceptance, either in friendships or romantic relationships. I want young women to know and feel that the Creator of the Universe has accepted them. There is no need to work to gain the acceptance of others. That motivation is still true, but I stay and continue to serve with students for many other reasons. Watching them grow is so rewarding! There is much joy to be found in participating in God's plan to change hearts. It is so fun to watch these students form friendships that are rock solid. When the rest of the world is against them, they have each other to turn to for sound advice and biblical encouragement. These kids do not shy away from hard questions! But I can't be or do anything for them if my relationship with God is unhealthy. If I'm not in the word, praying, attending church and MC, then I become disconnected, and I'm just a body there on Wednesday night. They push me in my own spiritual growth.
B: I'd like to come back around to the motive of how I got involved with Summit Students. Initially, my thought was, "I've got two sons, and as I'd like the church to pour into them, I want to do the same for other parents." It wasn't until youth camp this year that the Holy Spirit revealed to me the deeper reason why I want to be a youth mentor. My brother, who was nine years younger, was estranged from me. He passed away at the age of 18 without anyone sharing the gospel with him, or loving him as Jesus loved us, even in all our brokenness. I feel called to be a brother these young men can look to for comfort and love, and someone who will point them to Jesus.
We’re thankful for the Hargroves for giving their time and energy to the discipleship of our students. They are a crucial part of the mission of Summit Crossing: to know the gospel, to connect in gospel relationships, and to live out the gospel in the world. Keep going in the grace of Jesus!
If you’d like to get involved with Summit Students, click below!