Changing Lives … with MRI

Changing Lives … with MRI

Scott has created a youth group filled with diversity, where any student walking through the door feels welcome and loved. Photo courtesy of Scott Hetherington

by Cheryl Warren Brugel '90

September 10, 2007

Scott Hetherington ’92 believes in MRI — and he’s using it to challenge and change the lives of junior high students. No, Scott is not a doctor. He’s a youth pastor at Antioch Bible Church in Seattle, Washington. He loves kids and the Lord, and he sees MRI as foundational to empowering his youth to serve others.

From Bible clubs to serving at church, Scott is using the initialism “MRI” to train his youth to think beyond themselves. MRI stands for:
M  Move in
R  Relate
I    Invest

Scott is teaching students to move in and be a consistent presence in the life of a hurting person — a person who needs the Lord. He then challenges them to relate and build an authentic relationship with that person. As the relationship grows, he encourages youth to invest in a need in that person’s life. The goal of MRI: to build a bridge to be able to share Christ. MRI is simply following the example of Christ. Scott shares, “To the lost, Jesus met felt, physical needs. He didn’t just preach at them. He spoke of a New Law, one of forgiveness, salvation, and redemption.” Scott wants
his junior high youth to learn to do the same.

So where did his passion for ministering to youth begin? Scott cites his Christian ministry experience
from his Cedarville days as the beginning of his love for youth. For three years, Scott volunteered weekly at the Ohio Veterans’ Children’s Home in Xenia, working with troubled youth. After graduation in 1992, Scott moved to Montana, where he taught junior high physical education and health in the public school system for eight years. During the summers he worked at ClydeHurst Christian Ranch, where he met his wife, Ashley. In 2000, when offered a position at Antioch Bible Church in Seattle, Washington as pastor for junior high youth, he and his wife felt led to accept the challenge. Scott shares that in public schools he was limited in how much of his faith he could share. He could be a mentor to his students, but he could not give them the truth of God’s Word that they were searching for. He felt that being a youth pastor would offer both worlds — mentoring young people and teaching God’s Word.
Now, he’s finding the opportunities to be unlimited!

One method Scott is using to help his junior highers “move in” and be a consistent presence in the lives of hurting people is through Bible clubs. Held at
a community center in a low-income housing facility, the youth group has hosted an eight-week Bible club for elementary students, a project that has allowed his group to relate to hurting people in the area. Scott shares that by being at the community center, they learned of a need that several girls had: they could not afford dresses for their high school prom. Scott’s church invested in these girls by helping them buy dresses and paying to get their hair done. Meeting this physical need opened doors of opportunity to share Christ, the One who can meet the deepest needs of the human heart.

While at the community center, the group also saw that many families were not able to afford a Thanksgiving meal. In response, the junior high group has filled an average of 85 food boxes each Thanksgiving for the past seven years. These boxes are distributed to families in need the weekend before Thanksgiving.

According to Scott, one of the best places for students to serve is in the church. He encourages his students to get involved in a specific ministry where they can begin to relate to others and invest their energy. With 75-80 students attending weekly, his youth have great potential to impact their church. Currently, 65% of his youth group serves in a church ministry.

For Scott, MRI has become more than a lesson plan for his youth group to follow. It is a lifestyle he personally feels called to model as well. Discovering that two of his youth group members were getting involved in inappropriate relationships through the Internet was an eye-opener for
Scott that highlighted the dangers of online chat rooms. The discovery motivated Scott to receive training through the police department on Internet safety. He now ministers to parents and students by speaking on the topic. “Parents are often unaware of what their kids are doing [online],” he explains. “Youth today are both individualistic and pluralistic. They want to be in a community yet be an individual.” The Internet offers them both. Scott calls many young people “screenagers”: they learn information from screens, chatting with people “out there” but not engaging in authentic relationships. Seeing the danger of this, Scott has moved in to this arena of youth life, is relating to students, parents, and principals on this issue, and is investing his time and energy helping young people make wise choices while online. Through the process, Scott sees God opening doors of opportunity for him to be a voice for truth.

Because of Scott’s passion for living life by the MRI principle, he has created an environment in his youth group where all are welcomed. Underlying MRI is the biblical belief that all people have inherent value and are worth relating to and investing in. Scott has created a youth group filled with diversity, where any student walking through the door feels welcome and loved. Although his church has taken a very
clear stance against homosexuality, Scott continues to have junior highers who are struggling with homosexuality attend week after week. Unsaved students keep coming as well. Scott believes they come because they feel cared about in an authentic environment — one that exposes them to the truth.

Although serving as a youth pastor involves a “crazy, hard schedule” that takes Scott away from home many nights, he
is committed to and energized by the task. Seeing his kids serve others, watching unsaved kids find new life in Christ, building a community where all students are welcomed, giving talks on Internet safety in an effort to protect young people — these keep Scott going. They are the MRIs of his life, giving him a voice in his community that he uses to share the truth.

On the staff of Antioch Bible Church in the Seattle area, Scott works with junior high and high school students as teacher, coach, mentor, advocate, and pastor. He is a frequent camp, retreat, workshop, and conference speaker as part of his “Truth 4 Youth” ministry. Scott and his wife Ashley have been married for 12 years and have three children. To learn more, e-mail shetherington at abchurch.org
or call 425-284-2607.