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Middle school ministry leader aims to reach youth with spiritual anchor

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People of Faith is an occasional question-and-answer feature spotlighting various leaders in the area’s faith community.

Tim Hoeflinger feels an urgency to his calling — reaching middle schoolers with what he views as an anchor in the rough seas of today’s youth culture.

“Look at the statistics,” Hoeflinger said. “When are teen and preteen kids making decisions to drink or smoke or be sexually active? The answer is right now.”

Columbus’ Hoeflinger, 35, serves as the Columbus middle school director for Campus Life national Christian youth ministry, a part of Southern Hills Youth For Christ. His goal: to nurture young people toward a Christian commitment. The ministry will host its annual Youth For Christ Dessert Banquet fundraiser April 26 at Columbus’ First Christian Church.

About half of the 70 students ages 12 to 15 Hoeflinger sees at Campus Life after-school gatherings every week at Northside Middle School and Central Middle School in Columbus never go to church. They are hesitant for a range of reasons, including not knowing anyone in the churches, not having a family member attending, and being unsure of just what Christians or Christianity are all about.

“A lot of them feel intimidated by church,” he said. “I think for many, their perception, even though it’s a big misconception, is that they have to be right, look right and be saying the right things to go to church.

“They feel this way even though I know the churches in this community would welcome these kids with open arms while saying to them, ‘We want you; we want to know you and love you — just as you are.’

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