Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Church hosting youth event

Staff writer

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In a world increasingly filled with virtual interaction, some people still believe in the power of face-to-face connections.

At The Vine Community Church, Youth Director Whitney Sledz is fostering this communication with the next generation.

Every Wednesday evening, kids and teens from the third to 12th grade head to the church to a community of mentoring and friendship.

“Teens deal with so much nowadays, it’s hard to incorporate all of that into Sunday morning service. By offering extra help it helps them have an output with everything they deal with in their everyday lives,” said Courtni Jennings, a youth leader in the group.

Jackie Adkins, a senior at Clovis High School, said no matter what the lesson is that day, she always gets something out of it.

“It really helps me spiritually because I get to connect with people my age, and I can help kids who are in middle school who are going through problems that I went through. It’s a good place for me to make better friends and better connections with people,” Adkins said.

Sledz, the heart behind the youth program, has been growing the group for the last two years. Jennings said that in addition to making the program exciting for the kids, Sledz goes above and beyond to help them.

“I have a heart for teenagers and I always have,” Sledz said. “…I know that teenagers don’t necessarily remember a message they heard but they remember being able to connect with somebody and be helped. I just want them to be able to feel that too, because this is a crucial time in their lives that shapes who they are.”

In addition to providing spiritual guidance, the church focuses on giving the teens practical guidance to help them find out what they want to do.

“I don’t think that we people in general give students the credit that they deserve. They are smart and they are creative and they can do just about anything that we (adults) can do … I had a sixth-grader that was running our media department while I was out of town one day. I mean they can do it; they have all of this in them. And so it’s important for us to have the youth group so that they can grow and find out where they are talented, and they can get involved and see that they can serve,” Sledz said.

The youth group regularly meets on Wednesdays, but today after the Hobbs-Clovis football game they will meet at the church for a casual night of fun.

“We directed it toward our kids so that they get to know each other better, but anybody is invited,” Sledz said. “I want people to know that this group is a safe place for teenagers to come. It doesn’t matter who that teenager is, what they’ve been through or where they come from, we are here for them.”