St. Barnabas ‘bigs’ and ‘littles’ worship together at a church without walls as part of their discipleship journey
by Susan Craig / photos courtesy of Lavell McCollum & St. Barnabas UMC
Youth from St. Barnabas United Methodist Church made their customary, annual trip south on a recent Sunday to worship at the Church Under the Bridge in Waco. “It’s just
an amazing worship experience that we don’t get when we worship at a church with walls,” said Kaitlyn Jackson, director of youth discipleship at St. Barnabas, located in Arlington.
This year the group traveled an alternate route. Construction along the I-35 Corridor has led the Church Under the Bridge to become, temporarily, a church at the Magnolia Market Silos, the domain of Chip and Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper fame. The locale makes no difference; it’s still a diverse, multi-cultural, non-denominational gathering of people with a commitment to follow Jesus.
This trip was a journey of discipleship. Eleven students from the youth group were in the company of six from the 2019 Confirmation Class – kids with whom they’re well acquainted. Kaitlyn refers to the travelers as “the bigs” and “the littles.” Each confirmand has not only an adult mentor but also mentors from the youth group. “We encourage them to keep in contact even after the bigs graduate,” she said.
Kaitlyn grew up at St. Barnabas and returned after graduating from Tarleton State University to become an assistant youth director and ultimately the director of youth discipleship. She still has a close bond with the “little” she mentored in her high school years.
The St. Barnabas travelers, who took a moment to snap a picture with HGTV’s Chip Gaines, became part of the 150 to 200 worshippers at the Silos that Sunday. Together they distributed hygiene kits they had assembled for the homeless. For the younger students, this was part of their journey to confirmation. For the youth group, the trip capped a weekend that began with a “30-Hour Famine,” a fast for which they took in pledges of almost $2,000 for World Vision and got a taste of what it’s like for children around the world who live with hunger.
What was the takeaway for “the bigs” and “the littles?” When you worship at your home church – a church with four walls – “for the most part, everybody looks the same,” Kaitlyn said. Venturing beyond those walls gives the young disciples a chance to learn that when it’s time for worship, it doesn’t matter what you look like or how much money you have. What matters is that you love God. “That’s why you’re there.”