Kelvin and Sharon Rogers have been a part of the Lexington Presbyterian Church community for over 20 years. While they have been here, the couple has spent much of their time serving in various aspects of the youth ministry. Kelvin and Sharon share about what they learned with their time in youth ministry and how working with the students has affected them as followers of Christ.
Kelvin was born and raised in West Columbia, South Carolina. Sharon, however, is from Cleveland, Ohio. They met through Sharon’s sister, who was dating Kelvin’s roommate at the time. Kelvin helped Sharon’s family move from Cleveland to Lexington, and got to know her in the process. Shortly after they got married, the couple entered into a Bible study at LPC that forced them to reckon with the fact that each of their lives did not produce the fruit that it should have. It was then, the couple claims, that they got saved. Though Sharon did not want to live her life in a small town, once the Rogers gained a community at LPC, they found themselves not wanting to leave.
While attending one of their Bible studies, the youth ministry team made an announcement that they were doing an outreach event and needed a few adults just to be around in case someone got into some sort of trouble. They attended the event, and surprisingly found themselves drawn to the students and the ministry. Before they knew it they were heavily involved in the group. Kelvin and Sharon experienced many wonderful times in their years of ministry. Kelvin remembers his favorite event being the annual fall retreat. “The freshmen had just moved up, the seniors had just graduated. It was the first time you really got to know the new youth group of the year. We had good worship and teaching, we were at a beautiful lake house, it was a wonderful time of fellowship.” Sharon speaks of the week-long, summer retreat, “Breakaway,” as host to her fondest memories. “It was really nice to see how the kids reacted relationally day in and day out.” How the students interacted with each other minute to minute for a whole week was interesting and important to Sharon.
It was not just at the retreats that the couple spent multitudes of time with students, Kelvin and Sharon both led small groups that met once a week, they were regularly at the weekly large group events, and they made sure that students could always rely on them. “It’s really important to be available,” Kelvin says, “They’re not going to give anyone the time of day, you have to earn your way in. We would have our house open all of the time for students to hang out at if they wanted to. It was important to us that these kids had a place to go on the weekends that wasn’t a party or getting drunk or anything like that.” This kind of dedication paid off, as the couple speaks happily of a couple of occasions where students would come and say, “We’ve got your kids. Y’all go out for tonight.” Kelvin and Sharon remember a plethora of deep conversations and spiritual moments in their open home. “The best ministry we had was back porch ministry.”
The Rogers say that the youth ministry’s primary objective is to support the parents in their ministry. By helping minister to the parents, you are ministering to their child. Sharon says, “You are pouring into someone’s child: the most important person in their life. These kids deserve love and attention. They are God’s children, we need to treat them accordingly.” Relationships built with the parents of children are foundational and a lot can be learned from them. Sharon still finds herself especially close with one parent in particular, Cheryl Jackson. “Cheryl invested in me, because I invested in her child.” They still go out to lunch quite bit and are in continual contact.
Kelvin worked in LPC Youth Ministry for 22 years, while Sharon worked for 20. They reminisce their time with the youth through their “youth ministry wall” and seeing former students around the church. “It’s like a full circle; there are several students that were in our small groups as teenagers that are now part of our Bible Studies as married adults.” Even the smallest detail, such as a Facebook post of a bookmark Sharon made for her small group girls reminds the Rogers of the work that they did for our local church, and that the time spent and the words said made a lasting impact.
“The person I’ve been would have been completely different if it weren’t for this youth ministry.” Sharon, talks about the impact that doing youth ministry had on her life, especially in the raising of her own children. For youth workers, Kelvin says that we are seed planters. You play a part. It will take root and it will grow in God’s timing. Be faithful and consistent. Be genuine. More often than not, students come home from starting their lives saved. “They knew we were there. That’s the biggest impact we can have on them.” To anyone considering taking part in youth ministry, Sharon says, “Definitely do it.” “It’s the best ministry decision I’ve ever done,” adds Kelvin, “I was always drawn to it and excited by it.”
Written by Kara Rabon