Author Archive


One of the best parts about what I do is getting to know people, their stories, and what motivates them. Over the past few months, I have had the privilege of really getting to know the STS staff. I began to get a picture of who they were as we worked to hold everything together this spring, have been planning for summer, and sketching out the focus for the fall semester.  However, when I took a look at their personality testing I got a much clearer picture of who they are and discovered something interesting.

Mark Johnston, Anna Witt, Jenny Sessoms, and Caroline Germany (as well as Kristin Waites) all share the same personality core. While there are nuances to their personality that cause them to express that core differently, they share common values and vision.  So, what is this core personality?  They are, by nature, “Guardians”.

“Guardians” are loyal, trustworthy, team players who value tradition and responsibility. They thrive in structure and enjoy working a plan. They take their role as protectors very seriously, working hard to care for those they love.  That translates very well into student ministry. What better group of people to entrust with caring for and assisting in the discipleship of your child than a set of people who value tradition, authority, and security?  As a parent of STS students myself, it is a blessing to know that when my kids are in STS, that they are in the loyal, loving, and capable hands of a team whose core desire is to shepherd their souls through guarding and careful guiding.  Most of you, if you have spent any time around this team, knew that already. For those of you who didn’t know this about our team, I wanted to make you aware of it.  Because the Lord has brought us a group of people who take the Word of God seriously and desire to work with you as parents to see your child grow in grace.

I urge you to continue to pray for Mark, Anna, Jenny, and Caroline as they seek to love and serve our STS families. Pray that the Lord would guide to us a Director of Student Ministries who would perfectly compliment this team and help them utilize their giftedness to and reach this generation of students for Jesus.

For the STS Staff,

Zack Carden

STS Dive 2015

DIVE – STS Beach Retreat

2015 STS Summer Beach Retreat

Monday, July 6 – Friday, July 10

We’re so excited to be going to the beach this summer! We’ll be traveling to Florida on Monday, July 6 and spending Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at the beach then returning Friday, July 10. We are blessed to have our good friend Chad Cannon as our speaker for the week.

Who?: Current 7th-12th grade students {If we have room, we may open up to rising 7th graders}

Where?:Laguna Beach Christian Retreat Center
20016 Front Beach Road
Panama City Beach, Florida 32413

How Much?: $325.00 / student

*If registering multiple students from same family, multi-child discount applied: 2nd student = $250, 3rd student = $175

**Cost covers lodging, meals, transportation, tshirt, and more!


*Registration opens Sunday, May 10 and closes 3:30 on Thursday, July 2*

Tentative schedule {subject to change}:

Monday, July 6
11:00 am – Student registration and Lunch in STS
12:00 / 12:15 pm – Depart COTA, dinner on the road
7:30 / 8:00 pm – Arrival at Laguna Beach Christian Retreat Center
Tuesday, July 7 – Thursday, July 9
Morning: breakfast, worship, & teaching session
Afternoon: activities at location and on beach
Evening: dinner, worship, & teaching session
Friday, July 10
Morning: breakfast, packing, and departure
Lunch on the road
5:00 / 6:00 pm – Parent pickup at COTA

Spring Retreat – Talk About a PARTY!

It was another exciting weekend of fun, fellowship, and white water rafting on our 2015 Spring Retreat! :)

Our theme this year (Proverbs 3:5-6) was a great reminder that God loves us and guides us as we trust in Him! Here are a few pictures:

CW Spring Retreat

Annual 5th-6th Grade Spring Retreat

5th-6th Grade Spring Retreat

April 24-26, 2015

Whitewater Express, TN

Join Mark, Anna, and the volunteer team for a very exciting trip this spring!  We are heading to the incredible Whitewater express camp in Ocoee, Tennessee!  We will have a wonderful weekend filled with teaching, worship, and fellowship with friends, a selection of activities to choose from and the wonderful experience of rafting down the Nantahala River!

Students need to arrive at COTA by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 24th.  Students will need to be picked up by 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 26th.  Students need to bring clothes for two days in the outdoors, plus one set of clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty (especially if you choose to play paintball). Please pack lightly (no large suitcases, please). Keep in mind that it will get cold at nights. Also, bring rain gear, sleeping bag or linens, pillow, towel, toiletries, flashlight, Bible and journal!

Cost: $130.00 (Includes food, transportation, activities, materials and a T-shirt)

*Students will need to bring money to purchase lunch on the way back to COTA Sunday afternoon.

Online Registration has closed – please call the STS Office with any questions

After registering you will be e-mailed a release form, your balance, packing list, and arrival/departure time.

5:00 pm           Arrive at COTA; Eat Dinner at Church
6:15 pm           Depart COTA for Whitewater Express
8:00 pm           Worship/Teaching Sessions
11:00 pm         Lights Out
8:30 am           Breakfast
9:00 am           Depart Camp
10:00 am         Student Activities
12:00 pm         Lunch
2:00 pm           Fully Guided Rafting Trip
6:15 pm           Return to Camp/ Dinner
8:00 pm           Worship/ Teaching Session
10:00 pm         Campfire
8:30 am           Breakfast
9:00 am           Worship Session
11:00 am         Depart Camp; Lunch on the road
3:30 pm           Parent Pick-up at COTA
Questions? Contact:

 Mark Johnston: 404-591-1972
Anna Witt: 404-564-3149
Jenny Sessoms (for registration questions): 404- 591-4270

Upcoming Events in STS

If you missed our parent meeting, Sunday, March 22nd, don’t worry!

We gave out a lot of information about upcoming events in STS. Below are snapshots of the information we gave out to parents.

If you have any questions, please contact the STS Office: 404-591-2470

“Train Up” Father-Son: Audio


Did you miss the Father-Son event?

Don’t worry, we recorded the audio of Matt Brinkley’s sessions! The Friday night session was him speaking just to the fathers and the sessions on Saturday were to both the guys and their dads. Please let us know if you have any questions! We hope you take advantage of this great resource.

Train Up Friday Night

Train Up Saturday 1

Train Up Saturday 2



Train Up!

Train Up!

Coaching the Next Generation to Spiritual Maturity
Friday, March 13 & Saturday, March 14
Where?: The Commons, The Church of The Apostles

We’re excited to invite all 5th-12th grade guys and their dads to a special two-day event on Friday, March 13 & Saturday, March 14. The focus of this Father-Son “Stay-treat” (no over-night) will be “Coaching the next generation to spiritual maturity.”

The Friday night session with Matt Brinkley is open to fathers of STS-age daughters &/or children under 5th grade. This session will be only for fathers – nothing will be offered for STS-age girls or children under 5th grade.

Special guest speakers: Matt Brinkley & Ben Pollard

Matt Brinkley. A graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Covenant College, Matt has worked in student ministry since 1978 and currently coaches youth ministers through PACT Ministry. He has written numerous student discipleship manuals, student pastor training materials, books for student pastors, and training materials for parents. He has a great heart for youth pastors, students, and parents.


Ben Pollard. Ben and his wife are members of The Church of The Apostles. He has two sons, one who is playing college football and the other plays college baseball. Ben is a Master Strength Coach currently working for Georgia State Athletics. His coaching experience has included Sam Houston State, TCU, Alabama, Texas A&M, and Mississippi State. He has a passion for helping and training young men to focus on their character and goals in life.


Friday, 3/13:
7:00 pm – Dinner in The Commons
7:45 – 8:45 pm: Worship & Session 1
  • Matt will speak to fathers
  • Ben will speak to sons (The Loft)
Saturday, 3/14:
9:30 am – Breakfast in The Commons
10:15 – 11:15 am: Worship & Session 2 & 3
  • Matt will speak to fathers & sons (The Commons)
12:00 – 2:00 pm – Activities (STS area) – GameTruck, Bubble Soccer, Laser Tag
1:45 – 2:30 pm – Lunch (STS area)

Cost: $30/person (no more than $70/family)

Activities are optional and cost extra.

To sign up for the whole weekend: go here.
To Sign up for the Friday night session ONLY, please use this link. Cost: $10/person

Please contact the STS office  (404) 591-2470 with any questions.


Asheville here we come… Girl’s Retreat 2015

April 10 – 12, 2015

All 7th-12th grade girls are invited to join the STS staff ladies for a weekend of discipleship, our annual Girl’s Retreat. We are excited to explore God’s Word with you. We are renting a home near Asheville, NC and will be exploring the Biltmore on Saturday. This retreat is such a unique chance for us to encourage each other in faith and to learn more about God. We can’t wait for you to join us!

Sign in: Friday, April 10, in STS, at 5:00 pm
Return: Sunday, April 12, in STS, 5:00 pm

COST: $125.00 / person (includes lodging, meals, transportation, and activities)

Deadline to sign up / cancel: Wednesday, April 8th

If you have questions, please call the STS Office: (404) 591-2470

Online registration for this event has closed


2015 Guatemala Mission Trip!

4th Annual Mission trip to Guatemala!

June 20 – 27, 2015

For the past 3 summers our group had a phenomenal experience working with a ministry called Impacto. God has provided and moved in tangible ways; so we’re returning again in 2015!

We will be taking a team to the Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala from June 20th to June 27th. Impacto is a ministry that works throughout Central and South America. Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in Central America and provides a great opportunity to serve. Impacto’s mission is: “To bring salvation, hope, healing, and peace of Christ to the Spanish-speaking world.

Our group will be working with Impacto in numerous ways: constructing homes for widows’ families, doing Vacation Bible Schools, feeding programs, as well as many other services provided for the poor and lost of Guatemala.

If you’re interested in details of the trip, feel free to call the STS Office at (404) 591-2470.

You can pick up the application in the STS Office or email to request a copy via email.

The cost of the trip is $1,600.00.

This trip is open to current 9th-12th grade students (2014-2015 school year).

If there are spots left, we will open the trip up to rising 9th graders on March 1st.

Winter Mission 13

Unity in Service

Unity In Service

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17 ESV)

The weekend of January 16-18, 2015 a group of 35 7th-12th grade students gathered in STS for our annual weekend Winter Mission Project. Though we always have a lot of fun, and the students had the chance to show off in our Friday night Talent Show, the focus of the weekend was serving and meeting the needs of our local community here in Atlanta. It was an incredible blessing to see God at work in the hearts of these teenagers as they worked together to serve God and love others. They put aside the desire for personal recognition and rest (on a long weekend!) and instead chose to come together and love the people of our city.

We worked with a variety of ministries. Family Heritage Foundation/Mission Service Corp. missionaries Bennett & Idong Ekandem work with refugees in the Atlanta area, specifically in Clarkston, GA. Good Samaritan Health Center provides “affordable comprehensive medical, dental, mental health and health education services for underserved individuals and families in Atlanta.” Women of Gilgal works with women facing homelessness due to addiction. Resource Service Ministries works with widows in the Atlanta area, helping with house and yard work. Ronald McDonald Houses provide “temporary housing and support services to families of ill and injured children being treated at local hospitals.”

Enjoy a few pictures from the weekend!