Rev. Raigan Miskelly, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Columbus, said their Director of Student Ministries is “a vessel that God is using to help transform one life at a time.”
That is one of the many reasons Rev. Trey Skaggs and his team were named “2016 Best Youth Ministry” by the readers of The Columbus Dispatch in 2016.
“Trey has helped youth and parents discover the joy of knowing and serving Christ,” Miskelly said. “He has helped many realize their purpose and their passion as a believer in Jesus Christ. Trey is an excellent youth minister with a heart for young people and for partnering with Christ in transforming souls. He has surrounded himself with intentional leadership.”
Miskelly said a unique feature of the youth program is the Wednesday night small groups. There are 12 small groups — a girls and guys group for each grade level from 6th-12th grades. These small groups are “shepherded” by 24 committed leaders/adults that agree to journey with their group of students until they graduate. Skaggs also has a youth council that is comprised of 12 mature youth that have demonstrated a heart for Christ and for their fellow peers.
There are, on average, around 160 students active in the youth program at Columbus First UMC.
“With so many in our flock we are blessed to also have a full-time associate director as well as three college interns,” Skaggs said. “We also have dedicated volunteers who lead youth small groups each week. These guys are the reason our ministry has grown. They are awesome!”
Skaggs said with a staff of two among so many young faces, small group leaders play a pivotal role in the ministry.
“They are essentially shepherds of their respective small groups,” Skaggs said. “Their typical commitment is 6+ years of fall and spring service. These guys are the backbone of our ministry.”
Skaggs said they place a huge emphasis on student leadership.
“I’ve recognized that my most polished message delivery often pales in comparison to the shaky, heart-felt testimony of a student,” Skaggs said. “As such, we strive to empower our students to lead and teach and testify to how God is moving in their lives.”
Last year, Skaggs officially launched the youth council (12 students in the 10th -12th grades), who lead on Sunday nights, offer perpetual assessment of youth and leadership efforts, and lead the annual fall retreat.
“Last year we had 120 students at our retreat and I didn’t even lead a prayer,” Skaggs said. “It was all done by our youth council and it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.”
“Trey believes in equipping and empowering laity for ministry,” Miskelly said. “Therefore, there are opportunities for leaders, young and old, to serve every time we gather. The gift of Trey’s leadership creates ownership and commitment among the youth and their parents. He has a passion, not only for orthodoxy, but for orthopraxy. He believes that what we learn about Christ should then be practiced and lived out in the world.”
Miskelly said Skaggs creates this intentional balance by providing weekly service opportunities.
Service within the community plays a big role in the youth ministry. Every week, small groups serve the Sally Kate Winters Children’s home in West Point, Trinity Place Nursing Home in Columbus and the Lowndes County Habitat for Humanity store. Skaggs said youth also participate in missions every summer with the Bahamas Methodist Habitat and Servants in Faith and Technology (SIFAT) in Linesville, Ala.
“As the Chief Missional Strategist (or District Superintendent) for the Starkville District, I am so pleased to have relationships with our churches,” said Rev. Dr. Embra Jackson. “One of my favorite joys comes from being with youth at the various churches. The youth ministry at Columbus First Church is a very effective one. This ministry is so effective in part because of the leadership of Trey Skaggs, the church’s Youth Coordinator. Trey brings a unique ability to this position because he relates so well to the youth, their parents, the local church and the community. He is able to help persons to be reminded that they are all children of God and Persons of Worth (COGPOW). Because of this ability, Trey is very effective in his role. Columbus First and the Starkville District are blessed to have him as a part of ‘Team Starkville.’”
For more information about the youth ministry at Columbus First UMC, go http://www.columbusfumc.com.
See this story in the Sept. 16, 2016 edition of The Starkville District Newsletter at