By: Christopher Davis | Category: Education | Issue: August 2013
Pastor Theresa Watts poses with members of the Jeremiah Crew.
Jeremiah 24:7 (NIV): “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.”
This passage from the Bible was the inspiration behind the new name for the youth group at The Rock Church. Pastor Billy Joe Watts explains, “We decided to hold a naming contest for our youth group, and a cousin of one of our members, Esther – who lives in Manchester, England – suggested the name ‘Jeremiah Crew 24-7.’” Pastor Watts recalls that the young woman, who is finishing high school across the pond, travelled all the way to Tulsa to meet up with the congregation, before travelling with them to Florida to attend Camp Decision. Pastor Watts goes on to describe how her entry spoke to him, “The contest simply called for a name to be submitted, but she went above and beyond. Esther had included the referenced passage with the suggested name; she tied it together in such a way that the name operated on multiple levels.”
Such impressive accomplishments from a teenager might seem extraordinary to some, but Pastor Billy Joe Watts and his wife, Theresa, have come to expect greatness from their young congregants. The Jeremiah Crew 24-7 serves as a hub for more than 30 teenagers who come together for Bible study, social functions, community outreach and fundraisers for activities and events. And that’s just the beginning.
The couple has called the Tulsa area home since the early 80s, when Pastor Billy Joe began studying at Rhema Bible College and, eventually, leading services there. Fast forward a couple decades, and they formed their congregation, The Rock Church. Established six years ago, the Watts have seen their church grow. Now, they find themselves surrounded by a diverse group of families and in a position to serve in an even broader and deeper way than ever before.
The naming of the Jeremiah Crew 24-7 is their way of consolidating much of their various youth activities and programs and presenting it with some new ideas and energy. For years, Pastor Billy Joe has been speaking at events like Camp Decision and offering life coaching and motivational speaking. This new youth group provides a context to nurture these tried and true approaches, while infusing even more direct engagement with their teen members.
One recent activity with TJC 24-7 was an overnight event. Theresa describes her church sleepover with the teenage girls, “We started out with some games and snacks to keep it light. Then, we watched a movie. Following the movie, we had late-night discussion about some of the themes and issues raised in the movie.” Theresa recalls the most recent movie they watched was the classic “Anne of Green Gables.” As expected, some of the girls were underwhelmed – at first. Theresa laughs, “At first, they were predictable teens and some complained it was slow-moving. But, it wasn’t too long before they settled in. A couple of the girls really identified with the story, because they had been in a foster home. We had a great discussion that night.” Pastor Billy Joe explains that The Jeremiah Crew 24-7 participates in a variety of activities. Some activities feature discussions where the girls and boys are separated, but there are also many co-ed activities.
Some of the routine expectations for the youth will immediately resonate with parents. For example, at sessions known as ACT (After Church Together), the teens are required to give up their phones as they begin discussions and Bible study. Pastor Watts grins, “At first, they resisted, but we insisted. Now, if we are running late and haven’t passed the basket around to collect their phones, someone will remind us!” Common activities also include public speaking, discussions about current events and tracking progress in school. This emphasis on real world readiness in the context of serving God sets the Jeremiah Crew 24-7 and The Rock Church apart from many congregations. It is obvious that Pastors Billy Joe and Theresa have big hearts and love serving God and others. Without a doubt, their congregation will continue to grow.
The Jeremiah Crew 24-7 meets every second Sunday for a special church service and every first and third Sunday at After Church Together. For more information, visit www.therockchurchtulsa.org or like them on Facebook.
Christopher Davis is an educator and musician, as well as a writer. A California native, he resides in Tulsa with his wife, two sons and a modest menagerie of pets. When he isn't inspiring young minds, you will most likely find him spending time with his family or playing drums and percussion with Project Huckleberry or the Movetet. In addition to Value News, Davis also writes for Currentland. You can view his work at https://seedavis.wordpress.com.
6636 South Mingo Road, Union High School Performing Arts Center (behind football stadium)
Tulsa, OK 74133
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