Fuse exists to reach students far from God and teach them how to follow Jesus step by step.

What We've Learned

The why behind Fuse is to Reach students far from God and teach them how to follow Jesus step by step.

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All of our gatherings are planned several weeks or months in advance during a weekly creativity meeting involving our Central Fuse team. Most of the time, we operate in series. One series can last anywhere from three to six weeks, and every so often we have stand-alone messages. We always do special series around the holidays, Christmas and Easter especially. 

Small groups are vital to our ministry. We believe that our ministry will rise and fall based on Fuse Groups. Our goal at Fuse is for every volunteer to one day be a FuseGroup leader, and for every student to one day be in a Fuse Group. Community is essential for our students grow in their relationship with Jesus.

When a student signs up for a small group, they are walked through an online form. On that form, they can put in a leader or student they would like to be in a group with if they have any in mind. Small groups are gender-specific and made up of students in the same grade. We strive for a 1-to-7, leader-to-student ratio.

We just started a new process of getting students plugged into small groups that involves introducing them to the group on a gathering night. When a student signs up for a small group, we walk them around existing small groups and see if they know anyone in any of the groups. The goal is for them sit in small group the night that they sign up. This eliminates the wait time between when they sign up and when they start meeting.

From there it is the leader's responsibility to make them feel welcomed as well as to encourage the current group members to do the same.

Usually when a small group grows beyond the desired ratio, we bring in a co-leader to learn and lead alongside the current small group leader. After a few weeks, when the leader feels comfortable and has had some time to start building relationships with the students, the group multiplies into two. Typically, the dividing line falls pretty naturally based on existing friendships within the group.

Every student that attends for the first time goes to our VIP room after the gathering. The vision cast to those volunteers is to build relationships with these first-time students because relationships are the primary thing that bring students back to Fuse and keep them coming back.

The VIP Room volunteer that talks to the first-timer writes them a postcard at the end of the night that is mailed out the following day so that they will receive it early the next week (prior to the next Fuse night). The postcard essentially says that the volunteer was glad to meet them and includes something from the conversation they had. It then invites the student back to Fuse with a phrase along the lines of, "I can't wait to see you at Fuse next Wednesday!"

Again, we have seen that relationships bring students back to Fuse. It means a lot more to them when someone they know and have built a relationship with reaches out and encourages them to come back. We never want to make students feel threatened or forced to come back to Fuse. We want it to be a place they want to be and are excited to come be a part of. Our goal is to take each student out of the role of spectator and make them a participant. The primary way we do that is by creating an enjoyable, fun environment, and by building relationships. That way, they take what would be simple moments and make real memories at Fuse.

The majority of our Fuse volunteers are adults (people who have graduated high school). They serve in a variety of roles: check-in, load in/out, greeting, snack bar, parking, care, and room volunteers. Others serve as small group leaders and grade leaders (volunteers that lead other volunteers as small group leaders).

Testimonials and word of mouth are huge. Sharing stories of life change is what inspires and draws volunteers to Fuse. Additionally, we pull from the entire church's volunteers when we take students to the Gauntlet. After they experience a full week of Fuse, a lot of them want to continue serving in our student ministry. Our current Fuse volunteers are also very passionate and in love with the ministry so they are often our best advocates and recruiters. We always present volunteering at Fuse as an opportunity rather than simply fulfilling a need.

We have a process that all people interested in volunteering with Fuse must go through. First and foremost, they must be an Owner of NewSpring to volunteer in any ministry. The first time they come to Fuse is called their "First Look," where they are led on a tour of the facility during which volunteer opportunities are explained to them. They are then taken in to watch the gathering in a section separate from students since they have not yet gone through a background check.

After the gathering, they are introduced to some Fuse staff and are able to ask questions about our student ministry. If they decide to move forward in the process, they fill out the information necessary for NewSpring to conduct a background check. If they pass the background check, they then attend a volunteer training. These are held on Sunday afternoons in our Fuse building or at staff offices.

After they have completed training, they have a Next Steps conversation with Fuse volunteers or staff in which they provide information about their own salvation, why they want to serve with students, what their passions are, etc. If there are no sin issues or red flags raised in that conversation and they are still interested in serving with Fuse, they then decide what area they would like to serve in. If an issue is identified, it is discussed and another next step is suggested.

In training we watch a video that the Central Fuse team has made for every campus. In that training we talk about the "why," "how" and "what" of Fuse. The "why" being that Fuse exists to reach students far from God and teach them to follow Jesus step by step. ; the "how" being building relationships, creating an enjoyable environment and putting Jesus on their level; the "what" about what the volunteer can do to make Fuse excellent. That's where we talk about the different opportunities that Fuse has and what the volunteer needs to be ready to face once they begin serving at Fuse. We go over how to discipline and have certain conversations with students after the video. Once the training portion is over we move into Next Step conversations, where the new volunteer is placed with a Fuse volunteer and they have a conversation about what they think their next step is.

Different volunteer roles at Fuse require different levels of commitment. For example, snack bar volunteers can get on a rotation to serve every third Wednesday. This allows more volunteers to serve in those roles and at a capacity that allows them to not have to commit to every single week. Our volunteer leadership roles and all small group leaders are strongly encouraged to be at Fuse every week. This allows them to maintain a consistent presence with the students or volunteers they lead. Other guest service roles are encouraged to be at Fuse as much as possible and to communicate with their team leaders on the weeks that they aren't able to attend.

Expectations are laid out for volunteers during training. We expect our volunteers to have a growing relationship with Jesus Christ—including spending time reading their Bibles daily. We also expect them to maintain certain moral and ethical standards including (but not limited to) obeying drinking laws, not consuming or using drugs, abstaining from sexual activity if they are not married, etc.

They sign and are made aware of these terms in the Next Steps conversation and agree to them before they ever have their First Serve at Fuse. From that point, we work on an honor system. Typically the relationships that our volunteers build with their teams and team leaders become safe environments where they feel comfortable confessing sin and asking for prayer. If we ever encounter a circumstance where this verbal contract is violated, that volunteer will have a conversation with staff in which an appropriate probation period is discussed. Rarely does this conversation result in staff asking a volunteer to step away completely from serving at Fuse.

First, we point students to the Bible and show them that Jesus came to serve. If we're trying to be like Him, we will serve others too. Additionally, we point them to examples of servants in their lives and point out that the volunteers and small group leaders they love so much are taking time out of their lives to serve. On a Sunday, students have the opportunity to serve in KidSpring, some production, or as greeters and facility cleaners with our Guest Services teams.

We really do feel that the Fuse gathering we have for students once a week is excellent and fulfills our vision for our student ministry. Having students participate in regular Sunday worship allows them to have a place to invite their families and other people they may know, who aren't necessarily students, to an environment where they can meet and learn about Jesus. We've deemed the preaching appropriate and understandable for students once they have reached sixth grade.  Additionally, we challenge our students to set the tone for worship in Sunday gatherings. Certain gatherings at our different campuses have become student-heavy because our students like to worship together. For example, at our 5pm gathering at the Anderson campus many of our Fuse students sit together in a certain section of the auditorium. It's an opportunity for them to participate in not only Fuse, but everything NewSpring is doing.

Our heart for students is to be able to attend and engage freely as a student. We encourage them to serve in leadership roles in other ministries within NewSpring, but at Fuse we simply want for them to enjoy being a student. We allow students to be Fuse Group leaders if they meet the criteria of being a junior or senior who is currently in a Fuse Group of their own.

Students undergo the same training process that adult volunteers do if they want to serve in Fuse. If they decide they want to serve in our Children's Ministry, KidSpring, on Sunday mornings (most of our students choose this), then they undergo KidSpring's specific training.

Establish the "why" behind your student ministry/church and never stray from it. All of your decisions about the "what" and "how" of your ministry should always point to the "why." Stick to that vision and make decisions based on that vision.

For example, we do Fuse at NewSpring to see lives changed. So no matter what program, all additional pieces of ministry are done for that purpose. All outreach, small groups, and environments that we do point to the "why." We had to cut things that didn’t point to that vision, like church basketball leagues. We saw no salvations during the two years of doing church basketball, so we stopped doing it because it didn’t point back to the "why" of seeing lives changed. We are doing whatever we can to pursue those things as hard as we can. We have learned that we want to get better before we get bigger, so we have to make sure we always establish and clarify the reason why we do Fuse in order to do that.

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