Hello! I have had the honor and privilege of serving in the Student Ministry Department of First Methodist Mansfield for over 5 years. Currently we have three weekly programs serving students in 6th grade – 12th grade. Our staff does not keep it a secret that our favorite program/ministry we have is The Landing. The Landing is a 52-week program focuses on the 12 steps of recovery along with eight principles created from the Beatitudes.
When we started The Landing in January of 2014 the purpose was to bridge our already excising Recovery Ministries (Celebrate Recovery for Adults and Celebration Place for children) on Thursday nights. We soon realized that The Landing is so much more than just a “Recovery Ministry for teenagers”.
Those that work with teenagers – or even people in general know that life can be messy and sometimes overwhelming. The Landing serves as a safe place for students to process all that is going on in the world around them and figure out where God is in the midst of the mess. At The Landing we believe that everybody is in recovery for something - an addiction, depression, broken friendships/relationships, divorce, or just things in life that cause stress or anxiety. We provide a family-style dinner to our students and volunteers followed by worship and then breakout groups that are divided by gender and grade level. Volunteers serve as our breakout group mentors and selflessly work with our students on a weekly basis helping to facilitate open conversations and provide tools to help student cope with what is going on in their lives.
Since we started three years ago, this program has taken on a life of its own … in such a good way. I have been in youth ministry for many, many years and this is the first time I have experienced anything like what happens at The Landing on a consistent basis.
The students have created a family-like atmosphere that is accepting of all and where everyone feels loved – from the moment they enter the door. Middle School students sit next to high school students. At The Landing students who are there each and every week –not just sometimes, all the time welcome new students. There is just an understanding that when you are at The Landing – things are different. For those two hours everybody can take off the masks that life requires them to wear and they are free to explore what it means to be unconditionally loved by the one who created them. We recognize that some of the hardest steps a student may have to make in life are the steps they take when they walk into The Landing. Those are steps that confirm that maybe they don’t have it all together in life. Students taking courageous steps into a space that they may not know anybody. For the first time some of the students admit that they aren’t created to live life alone and they are called to live in a community. That is what The Landing is all about.
Each week is different. We never know who is going to show up and what kind of week our students have had until they are here. There are weeks that we have 40 students some weeks we have less than 20. Some of our students have parents who participate in Celebrate Recovery that is offered at the same time. Some of the students do not attend our church regularly, and some of our students are here anytime the doors are open. There are weeks when the space is filled with laughter and joy and there are weeks where there are tears or silence. We just try to meet the students where they are and each and every week we let them know they are loved.
I strongly believe that each and every student would benefit from the tools that The Landing provides. We are one of the few churches in the area that offers The Landing. I would love to see more churches and organizations adopt and adapt The Landing for their students. If you are interested in finding out more information about The Landing you can click here. I am also available to answer any questions or continue the conversation about how to start The Landing at your church or organization.
I am so thankful to have this opportunity to share about this vital and special ministry!
Amanda Hardeman serves as the Director of Student Ministries at First Methodist Mansfield, TX. She has been in Student Ministry for over 18 years and has a degree in Child Development and Family Studies. Amanda enjoys watching reality television, drinking coffee, and spending time with her son Dax and husband Toby.