Life.Church's Switch Initiative 4

Making a Real Difference in Students’ Lives

Cedric Hardimon wanted to be an NBA player. Now, he ministetrs to athletes and students as the youth pastor at Life.Church Norman and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

“MY MOTHER AND I FOUND SUPPORT THROUGH THE LOCAL CHURCH, AND CREATING THAT FOR SOMEONE ELSE IS WHAT I LIVE FOR AS A YOUTH PASTOR.”

His favorite Bible verse is Psalm 27:1: “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?”

Cedric and his wife, Megan, have been married for 10 years and have three boys ages 7, 5 and 1.

Hunter Threlkeld moved halfway across the country to be the youth pastor at Life.Church Moore. He watched a message from Life.Church Senior Pastor Craig Groeschel while in school in South Carolina and decided to apply.

“I believe the next generation will change everything. I love that I get to play a part in investing in the lives of students as they go out and change the world.”

His favorite Bible story is when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are thrown into the fiery furnVace for refusing to worship idols. Hunter loves the display of God’s faithfulness when God rescues the three men from the fire.

Hunter and his wife, Mariah, are newlyweds, and they own a mini schnauzer named Benji.

Many years ago, Life.Church South Oklahoma City Youth Pastor ANUJ CHANDNA wanted to be a doctor. Little did he know, his career would lead him to helping others find healing through the love of Jesus.

“I was serving in student ministry and knew I wanted to do it full time. I enjoy showing students it’s so much better going through school with a relationship with Christ than it is without one.”

Anuj’s favorite Bible story is when God uses Gideon—a nobody from a tiny tribe with little natural talent or ability—to defeat mighty armies. He loves the illustration of how God turned Gideon’s weaknesses into strengths.

Each Wednesday night throughout the school year, sixth- through 12th-grade students meet at every Life.Church location for Switch, the church’s youth ministry. We heard from the youth pastors of the three Life.Church locations within Cleveland County—Norman, Moore and South Oklahoma City—about why they believe Switch is powerful for middle school and high school students.

What does a student experience at Switch?

Cedric: Our goal is to create an experience where students can develop a strong foundation of faith and friendships that will help them boldly follow God’s will. Every week, we bring high-energy worship, interactive games, small-group discussions and video teachings to address the issues students face every day.

How does Switch make a difference in students’ lives?

Anuj: Switch connects kids with positive role models who genuinely care and always show up. DJ grew up around alcoholism and drug abuse and was bullied for not participating in the same wild lifestyle. He felt depressed and like no one believed in him.

When he started coming to Switch as a student, he said it was the first time in his life he had consistency. Now, as a Switch intern, he became the one committed to showing up. For him, it is a privilege to be used by God to reach others just as he was reached.

How does Switch help students decide to make good choices?

Hunter: I think it all comes down to authenticity. Rudy’s story is a great example. He lost his parents at a young age, and without the right influences in his life, he got into drugs. Once, he was caught smoking behind the church, and we saw this as an opportunity to invite him to Switch.

When he came, he met people who are authentic and genuinely care about him. Now he never misses a week and serves with his aunt on the weekend!

What is the role of a 
small-group leader?

Cedric: Our leaders create an environment for students’ lives to be changed. They are an additional support system–for the student, and also for their families. Amanda is a standout small-group leader. Not long ago, one of her students lost her sister to suicide. Even though her sister was not involved at Life.Church, the family reached out to Amanda for support.

Amanda helped the family through an incredibly difficult time and continues to minister to the family today. Leaders like Amanda help us reach our community in ways we never imagined.