Growing Young: Getting to Know Kyle Groters
Kyle Groters was born on the island of Sicily, but spent many of his growing up years at ECRC. Kyle attended Moody Bible Institute and is currently a student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL. Kyle and his wife Grace have served as volunteer leaders in youth ministry, and Kyle became ECRC’s full-time Youth Coordinator in August of this year, where he is leading the charge to disciple our young people in some awesome new directions.
Pastor Gregg: How did you find yourself serving at a church? Is this where you expected to find yourself working?
Kyle: Ever since I started at Moody Bible Institute, the possibility of someday working for a church was never far from the front of my mind. My first area of study was more counseling-oriented (Ministry to Victims of Sexual Exploitation), and my goal was to move into trauma counseling in the long run. Through a variety of circumstances and opportunities to grow, I realized that that was not the direction I needed to go. This led me to go onto seminary, initially with the end goal of moving on towards Ph.D. studies. But as time went on, I had an ever-growing desire to be more involved with actively serving the “Body of Christ” (the Church) in concrete ways. I’ve had the privilege to serve in multiple churches and in multiple capacities over the years. And while there are definitely unique challenges in church work, the opportunity to minister to and care for the Body of Christ continues to excite me. I long for the Church to enter into a deeper relationship with Jesus in concrete and life-altering ways. I did not necessarily expect to be in this role at this point in my life, but I see serving with our young people as one of the most significant ways for our church to grow closer to Jesus together.
Pastor Gregg: What does it mean to be the leader of Youth Ministries at Elmhurst CRC these days? How do you spend your time?
Kyle: I’m still working to figure this out! On any given week, I do my best to spend time with students and their families outside of the church or our regular youth activities. Oftentimes this looks like going to sports games or other extracurricular activities or grabbing a meal or coffee with a student or a group of students. I try to spend some time at our local schools throughout the week, as getting to connect with students during the school day is refreshing for all involved and helps deepen connection. There is also the whole realm of planning, logistics, and communication that happens week in and week out. We are actively moving away from being overly programmatic, so some of this has been reduced, but trying new things also requires its own extra thought and planning. One thing I am struck by as the months go by is the need we have to lift up our students in prayer, both individually and generally. I’m working on developing rhythms of prayer and reflection. We also want to invite our students into similar rhythms, so having them as a core part of my weekly workflow is really helpful even by way of example.
Pastor Gregg: What are your main hopes for spiritual fruit this year? How can we pray for and support you in this?
Kyle: I might have too many hopes for spiritual fruit this year, if that’s possible. We are passionate about inviting our students into the next step of developing a mature faith. My overall hope is that each one of our students is invited and begins to answer the invitation to step closer to Jesus this year in her or his faith journey. One faith struggle that we’re seeing pop up a lot is an understanding of God that suggests that he is usually angry, and goes out of his way to say no and be restrictive. We hope to combat this as we explore God as a fundamentally abundant provider who longs to say yes to his children and who is quick to listen to and enter into the pain of his children. If our students abide more deeply with Jesus this year and learn to trust in his abundant love, that will be something to celebrate! We also are working on encouraging our students to pick up their Bibles and get to reading, specifically to grow closer to Jesus.
Keep praying for our students, and if you aren’t, please start. It is increasingly clear that they are being regularly assaulted on what feels like all sides right now, specifically as they experience increased stress and anxiety (and for some, anxiety for the first time) coming out of Covid. This anxiety is taking its toll in numerous ways, and choosing Jesus in the midst of these struggles is difficult. The more that we can lift them up in prayer the better. Also, continue to pray for our youth ministry team as we seek to walk closely with our students in these times, and that we can keep having a lot of fun along the way!
Pastor Gregg: Anything else you’d like us to know?
Kyle: Pretty sure I’m already well over my word count!