One Thing Every Healthy Youth Ministry Needsfor: Youth Leaders

I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus’ prayer for His disciples in John 17, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one…As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (vss. 15, 18 NIV). Jesus had many disciples while on the earth, but this prayer was specifically for His closest disciples; the eleven who remained faithful to Him until the end. These were arguably the most important disciples in the history of the Church. Even if we knew nothing else of Jesus’ time with His followers, we could still make two conclusions about His discipleship model from this prayer. First, that He “sent” His followers on a mission. Time with Jesus included mission and ultimately prepared and equipped the disciples for mission. Second, Jesus was not afraid to put His disciples at risk, for risk is inherent in mission. And so Jesus prayed, “God, protect them…for I am sending them.”

In the church and in the family our most important disciples are our children and youth. If we are leading like Jesus led and discipling like Jesus discipled, then we must also pray, “God protect them…for we are sending them.” And then we must send them. That’s why every healthy youth ministry includes mission and builds towards mission in its discipleship methods. For the majority of today’s students the field of mission is the public school, so our discipleship must include preparing and equipping students for this mission. Home, Cyber, and Christian-school students rarely make contact with this vast mission field. As a result, the church and the family must take extra care to find regular opportunities for these students to engage in mission, or their discipleship may become extraordinarily unbalanced and/or become too self-focused. Regardless of how it’s accomplished, every healthy Biblical model of discipleship in youth ministry includes and leads to mission.

The risk of excluding mission from discipleship in youth ministry is far greater than the inherent risk of engaging mission. When we exclude mission, we teach our students a version of Christianity that has little basis in the Cross. Mission leads to selflessness; no mission leads to self-centeredness. Mission leads to dependence on the Holy Spirit; no mission leads to dependence on self. Mission leads to the Cross; no mission leads to simple morality. This is unhealthy youth ministry. Discipleship that doesn’t include mission usually ends in what theologians and sociologists have termed Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD). A comprehensive study[1] in 2005 by researchers at the University of North Carolina concluded that most religious teenagers in America actually adhere to MTD rather than authentic, Cross-centered and Spirit driven Christianity.

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is rampant in youth ministry. The end goal of MTD is to be happy and to feel good about yourself, which is accomplished through being moral in your own life and being nice to others. God exists, but isn’t really involved unless you need something fixed, and He lets good people go to heaven when they die. In MTD, there is little demand for holiness, sacrifice, or mission as defined by Luke 19:10, “The Son of Man came to seek and save that which is lost.” If we’re not careful, we’ll end up with a generation of students who know how to be good, but don’t know how to carry the cross.

The solution is simple—stop putting students in the spotlight, and start putting the spotlight on Jesus. Give them a cross to carry, a sacrifice to strive toward, and a mission (Luke 19:10) to be a part of. That’s healthy youth ministry! And what about the inherent risk? Jesus gave us a risk manager—the promised Holy Spirit. So let us pray with confidence, “God, protect them…for we are sending them.”

[1] Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).

I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus’ prayer for His disciples in John 17, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one…As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (vss. 15, 18 NIV). Jesus had many disciples while...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 3 )

Nominate the Campus Missionary of the Yearfor: Youth Leaders

Campus-Missionary-enews-logo

Every year we honor one student who has been outstanding in their commitment as a missionary to their school campus. A Campus Missionary commits to live a life of faith in school, love their fellow students and school community, and lead their friends to Jesus and to the church. A Campus Missionary lives out loud, loves on purpose, and leads to eternity.

In the past, we have selected the Campus Missionary of the Year based upon the CM reports sent through the national Youth Alive reporting system. However, we recognize that many CMs do not use the national reporting system, and that local youth pastors and leaders are in a better position to identify the outstanding students who have been exemplary in mission on the school campus. As a result, this year we are asking for youth pastors and youth leaders to nominate a student (or students) from their group who have been outstanding Campus Missionaries. From those nominations, we will select the Campus Missionary of the Year.

To nominate a student for Campus Missionary of the Year, please read the following:

  • Nominations should be in the form of a recommendation letter.
  • Nominations should provide example of the student’s efforts in some or all of the following:
    • Sharing the Gospel at school
    • Leading friends to Jesus
    • Leading/Participating in an outreach at school
    • Leading a Bible Club/Helping to lead a Bible Club
    • Bringing friends from school to church/youth ministry/events
    • Living as an example for Christ on the Campus
    • Serving their school in the name of Jesus
  • The nomination must be sent by email to Lee@reachtheschool.com, either in the body of the email or as a scanned attachment on church letterhead.
  • Nominations must come from a Youth Pastor, Youth Leader in charge, or Lead Pastor of the church the student attends.

The Campus Missionary of the Year will be highlighted in the Fall issue of the Network Connexions magazine, will be honored at the Advance Back-to-School Retreat, and will receive free tuition to either Youth Advance, Winter Retreat, or Youth Convention. All nominations must be received no later than June 26, 2014 at 12pm.

Every year we honor one student who has been outstanding in their commitment as a missionary to their school campus. A Campus Missionary commits to live a life of faith in school, love their fellow students and school community, and lead their friends to Jesus and to the church. A Campus Missionary lives out loud, loves on...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 0 )

Hitting the Wallfor: Students

When I youth pastored in Philadelphia, I rode my bicycle to the church most nice days. You would too if your other transportation was a 1985 Ford LTD Crown Vic with no air conditioning. We lived in the Lower Roxborough section of the city, on the border with Manayunk, and the church was in Upper Roxborough. The “lower” and “upper” descriptions are no joke. It was a 30-minute uphill ride to get to church, and about a 15 minute ride downhill to get home. As I pedaled day-by-day, my body adapted. I lost weight and grew muscle. I loved riding my bike to work!

We lived just a block away from where the famous Philadelphia International Cycling Championship entered and left our neighborhood. One of the centerpieces of the race was called “The Manayunk Wall,” a very steep hill in the middle of the neighborhood that separated the men from the boys. One of my personal goals, as I rode to work each and every day, was to eventually make it up the wall without stopping. The first time I tried, I had to get off my bike and walk up. When I tried it again, a few weeks later, I made it up easily. Training made all the difference.

Almost every Campus Missionary and Bible Club I know hits the wall, at least temporarily, about halfway through the year. The school year starts out strong, and we are loaded with vision and dreams of what God can do in our school. But as the year progresses, we may get tired out, or find that our efforts were not as successful as we hope they were. Sometimes we just get overloaded with the concerns of schoolwork, extracurricular activities, our jobs, and balancing life. The end of the school year is nowhere in sight. Almost everybody hits a wall.

But hitting the wall doesn’t mean your progress has to stop. The key is finding a way over, around, or through that wall. It means moving past the stalling point and progressing further towards the goal of praying, living, telling, serving, and giving on your campus for Jesus Christ. So…how do you get over the wall?

A great way to get over the wall is to do an outreach, serve your school, or hold an event. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. For example, Valentine’s Day is approaching. What if your Bible Club, or just a group of you and your fellow Campus Missionaries, created hearts with scripture on them that tell about God’s love? You could put the hearts on every locker, or just hand them out with some Valentine’s candy around school.

Whatever you do, don’t walk away from the race! Get over that wall!

When I youth pastored in Philadelphia, I rode my bicycle to the church most nice days. You would too if your other transportation was a 1985 Ford LTD Crown Vic with no air conditioning. We lived in the Lower Roxborough section of the city, on the border with Manayunk, and the church was in Upper Roxborough. The...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 0 )

I was held hostage…for: Youth Leaders

I was held hostage Over the Christmas break. I know this is shocking to some of you, and I’m sure you think you should of heard about this on the news. True enough, I was bound, gagged, unable to speak and say the things I really needed to say. I felt helpless. I felt powerless. I wasn’t held hostage by a terrorist or a robber. I was held hostage by someone I knew…and by the Gospel.

I’m sure you all remember the Duck Dynasty drama that broke in the week before Christmas. Phil Robertson’s “frank” comments were polarizing, to say the least. Let me say two things here, for the record: (1) I believe the Old and New Testaments give incontrovertible witness that homosexual behavior is a sin [Rom. 1:27, 1 Cor. 6:9-10, 1 Tim. 1:10, Lev. 18:22], and (2) I’ve been a pretty big fan of Duck Dynasty. However, I found myself unable to speak up in defense of the Duck Patriarch. Why? Because I was being held hostage; I was unable to speak. I was threatened by a friend and bound by the Gospel.

After the controversy broke, an openly gay Facebook friend of mine posted something like this to his Facebook, “Anyone who defends Phil Robertson will be de-friended immediately.” My initial reaction was as follows: “Wow! Really? That doesn’t seem fair. I have a right to my opinion, and it’s okay for us to disagree. How can anyone hold a friendship (Facebook or otherwise) hostage over a disagreement? I should definitely speak up for the Truth of the Gospel!”

I chose not to post anything on the subject. Upon further reflection I came to three conclusions: First, that if I chose to speak up on this issue, I would lose a friend along with the opportunity to talk about God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation in the future. I value having a continuing voice in his life, even if it’s marginalized, than to lose that voice altogether over one issue. There are thousands, perhaps millions of ways to offend God’s holiness, this is just one of them. I am guilty of many of the others. I have a deep obligation to proclaim the Message of Reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:19), but I’m not in a hurry to lose this opportunity through an avoidable offense.

Second, my friend has been deeply hurt, and I’m not looking to pile onto that hurt. We disagree over some very deep issues of existence and being. I believe that homosexuality is a result of the brokenness of humanity’s relationship with God and the resultant sin that has been passed from generation to generation since Adam. This is where we disagree, for he may not see homosexuality in the same way. Regardless, for my homosexual friends, every derogatory word on this issue cuts to their very being. That is not to say that Truth should not be proclaimed, or that a Biblical position on this shouldn’t be made clear, just read my next point.

Thirdly, the Truth of scripture has already been declared to him. In fact, the Truth has been quite forcibly and crudely declared thanks to the Patriarch of the Robertsons. Consider this, it is our role to proclaim the Truth, but it is not our role to convince people of the Truth. That is the job of the Holy Spirit (John 16:6-7). I don’t need to continually repeat a specific Biblical Truth on a single sin issue, in this case homosexuality, when the church has clearly proclaimed it. The Truth has been told. Our understanding of the position of Scripture has been made clear. Now let Holy Spirit work. Those who have received the message will either accept it or they won’t. Jesus was sorrowful over those who didn’t receive His message (Luke 10:13), but He didn’t repeatedly dwell on this until everyone was convinced of the Truth. He humbly accepted the disagreement and continued His work of bringing healing and reconciliation to the world. Let’s not ruin the work of the Holy Spirit by trying to do the convincing ourselves.

Many of us who are in leadership are attempting to navigate this issue. What’s more, most of our students are having to cope with this tension far more regularly than we are, and they are looking to us for guidance as they try to reach their school for Christ. It’s crucial that we be thoughtful on this issue, as opposed to being reactionary and rhetorical. The Scriptures report just two times when Jesus shed tears. One of those occurrences was at the loss of his friend, Lazarus (John 11:35). The second was over Jerusalem, and it’s rejection of Jesus and his message (Luke 19:41). As a follower of Christ, I weep over the same things. I weep that the message of the Cross continues to be rejected, and that the Truth of Scripture has come to be ignored, augmented, misinterpreted, and replaced. I also weep at the loss of a friend, for I also lose the opportunity to share God’s grace with them and the richness of fellowship with one of God’s fearfully created beings. In this case, I chose not to lose a friend and to be held hostage instead. There’s a lot of room (and need) for discussion and debate on our methods, though not on our doctrine. So…what would you do if you were held hostage?

I was held hostage Over the Christmas break. I know this is shocking to some of you, and I’m sure you think you should of heard about this on the news. True enough, I was bound, gagged, unable to speak and say the things I really needed to say. I felt helpless. I felt powerless. I wasn’t...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 2 )

Resources We Recommend: The Leadership Challengefor: Youth Leaders

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve talked about being intentional in youth ministry to influence local campuses with the Gospel. Ultimately, learning to be intentional means learning to be a good leader. That’s one of the secrets about campus ministry. Effective campus ministry has much more to do with who you are as a leader than it does with knowing the ins-and-outs of the campus. One great resource about becoming an effective leader is The Leadership Challenge. This is not a Christian book full of scriptural admonitions regarding godly leadership. On the contrary, the authors conducted studies and surveys of successful leaders and identified five key behaviors effective leaders practice. Coincidentally, every good student of the Bible will find similarities between scriptural principles, patterns of Biblical leadership, and the five key practices identified in The Leadership Challenge.

If you want to be the kind of leader who can impact the campus, start with who you are and what you do. What about you needs to change so that you can become an effective leader? Maybe that exploration starts with a good book like The Leadership Challenge. It’s filled with principles and stories to help each reader envision what effective leadership looks like. It’s a popular book, so you can likely find it in any digital format you want, at the local bookstore, or for loan at your local library.

Leadership Challenge

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve talked about being intentional in youth ministry to influence local campuses with the Gospel. Ultimately, learning to be intentional means learning to be a good leader. That’s one of the secrets about campus ministry. Effective campus ministry has much more to do with who you are as a leader than...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 0 )

Before You React…6 Tips to Reach the Schoolfor: Youth Leaders

Last week we began a series on being intentional in youth ministry. The underlying principle is that you’ve got to be intentional if you want to get specific outcomes in discipleship. This is also known as being “proactive” in your approach to youth ministry. The opposite of being proactive is being reactive. A lot youth leaders conduct their youth ministries in a reactive manner. They see issues, problems, or drama amongst their students and then address those issues in a sermon or activity as a reaction to what they see. For example, if the students in your youth ministry are very selfish, you may be tempted to preach on the evils of selfishness. But if you really want to correct selfish behavior, you should talk about sacrifice and teach students what it means to give, because giving is the cure for selfishness. This is being proactive (instead of reactive) in youth ministry. It’s another form of intentionality wherein you schedule and gear your youth ministry culture towards producing discipleship outcomes, as opposed to simply reacting to sin issues. As you produce meaningful discipleship outcomes, you’ll find that those major sin issues become non-factors. So before you react, pro-act.

Imagine if Jesus had been a reactive leader. Peter could not walk on water until the whole betrayal thing had been worked out of his system. The Sons of Thunder would have been put on some type of medication to calm them down before they could be challenged with deep principles of discipleship. Thomas couldn’t participate in Jesus’ ministry until his doubt had been addressed. Instead of reacting to the sins and issues Jesus knew his disciples would engage in, He proactively challenged them follow Him and engage in missional activity along the way. He does the same thing with us today.

So…how can you be proactively intentional in order to produce the outcome of missional living in the lives of your students? Start with what you’re doing in your youth group. What you’re preaching, planning, and spending money on should all point to reaching the school if that’s the outcome you desire. Here are six practical things I recommend you do if you want to reach the school and create a culture of missional living:

  1. Schedule your preaching calendar, small group sessions, discussion times, etc. to include a 4-8 week series on living missionally on the Campus. Preach about the reaching the school, discuss the reaching the school, gear your small group curriculums towards reaching the school. Talk about it, talk about it, talk about it…and then talk about it some more!
  2. Schedule and plan to participate in 3-4 events that geared towards reaching the school with the Gospel in August and September. Here’s some suggestions:
    • Advance. This back-to-school retreat takes place Labor Day weekend of each year and focuses on the individual values of missional living. Stay tuned to this blog for more info.
    • Unleashed: Campus Ministry Training Conference. These regional 1/2 day events focus on student group efforts to reach the school (Bible Club planning, outreach events, etc.).
    • Pre-Pole Rally. Get together with some other youth pastors in your area and plan a rally the weekend before See You At The Pole.
    • See You At the Pole. Promote it, help your students plan for it, go to it, follow up with testimonies in your youth service after it.
  3. Schedule at least half a day each week to be on the school campus. What you do with your time speaks volumes about what you value. If campus missions is important to you, and having students who live missionally is important to you, make time to be in their mission field!
  4. Use some of your youth ministry budget for Campus Ministry. Consider giving a grant to each local Bible Club for use in missional activity. Don’t have a budget? Have a fundraiser and create a budget from the profits.
  5. Challenge your students to a special personal initiative they can do in their school. The 1-Month Challenge, 30 Second Kneel Down, and wearing visual displays such as buttons are all good examples of this.
  6. Recruit and equip some leaders to be involved in reaching the school. Our adult leaders are some of our best resources, so give them a meaningful task by asking them to be a Bible Club coach.

Last week we began a series on being intentional in youth ministry. The underlying principle is that you’ve got to be intentional if you want to get specific outcomes in discipleship. This is also known as being “proactive” in your approach to youth ministry. The opposite of being proactive is being reactive. A lot youth leaders conduct...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 7 )

Are you Macro or Micro? Being Intentional in Discipleshipfor: Youth Leaders

A few weeks ago the Exponential leadership cohort had a Skype session with the National Youth Alive Director, Steve Pulis. I asked Steve to talk with us about “Becoming the Kind of Leader who can Impact the Campus.” One of the first things he said was something like this, “If you want to be the kind of leader who impacts the campus, you have to be intentional with what you do. Students reaching students on the campus doesn’t happen by accident.” I couldn’t agree more. It’s easy to believe that if we are making disciples of Christ, they will naturally want to share their faith with those around them. However, it will not happen unless we are intentional in teaching our students to share their faith, and in modeling it for them.

Almost every youth worker has some measure of intentionality in their ministry. We intend to help teenagers and to mold them into disciples of Christ. We get the big picture; that’s why we got into youth ministry. Let’s call this being “macro-intentional.” However, if you want to produce specific discipleship outcomes in students (such as Bible reading, prayer, giving, serving, missional living, etc.), you’ve got to be far more intentional than simply working broadly at the big picture. For example, if you want the students in your ministry to be passionate about missions, then you need to talk about missions, invite missionaries to share their stories, take missions trips, and do missions-based events. Let’s call this being “micro-intentional.” Being micro-intentional means that you drill down on a particular area of discipleship or Christlike expression to produce specific outcomes. If all you’re doing is holding all-nighters, dodgeball tournaments, and preaching random messages each week, it’s unlikely your students will gravitate towards any specific discipleship outcomes. They probably like you and you probably have a lot of fun together, but you may unintentionally be missing the point of youth ministry.

So what does being micro-intentional look like for campus ministry? How do we intentionally move students towards missional living in their schools? This is a question we will be exploring in detail over the next few weeks. Essentially, being intentional towards the campus means your youth ministry’s calendar, financial resources, and discussions all point to missional living in school. It means that your time usage, as a leader, exemplifies that the campus is an important mission field. The apostle Paul gives a good view of what it means to be intentional in discipleship in Philippians 4:9 where he writes, “Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized.” Paul’s intentionality is revealed in that he showed his followers what he wanted them to learn, he talked about what he wanted them to learn, and he modeled the things he wanted his followers to do. The results are clearly visible through the witness of history, resulting in the size and scope of the church today. It’s hard to argue with that kind of success!

If your youth ministry were to be examined, what specific areas would we find you exercising micro-intention? What are some ways you could be more intentional for campus ministry? Next week I’ll be writing about being intentional with your ministry calendar, budget, and resources.

A few weeks ago the Exponential leadership cohort had a Skype session with the National Youth Alive Director, Steve Pulis. I asked Steve to talk with us about “Becoming the Kind of Leader who can Impact the Campus.” One of the first things he said was something like this, “If you want to be the kind of...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 5 )

Taking Initiative – Part 3for: Students

The 1-Month Callenge

Editor’s Note: We’ve been doing a series called “Taking Initiative.” The commitment of a Campus Missionary, and the desire to impact a school for Jesus Christ, requires that we think and act creatively to accomplish this goal. Taking initiative means that we actively try to share and demonstrate our faith in school. For the next few weeks we will look at some different initiatives that you can take on in your school as you Pray, Live, Tell, Serve and Give.

When I was in high school and had fully committed my life to Christ, I made a conscious commitment to live my life with the mission of God in mind: to seek and save that which is lost (Luke 19:10). I also took a great interest in my own growth as a Christian. I started doing something that helped me fulfill both of these objectives at the same time; I started carrying my Bible with me at school. Even better, I started reading it at every opportunity that came along – downtimes, study halls, extra time after I had completed a test, etc. What started as an attempt to read my Bible more with the time available to me turned into an opportunity to share my faith.

People started to notice when I was carrying my Bible around. Why? Because nobody does that. I even had a teacher jokingly ridicule me in front of the class because I was reading my Bible when I had completed a test. That may seem like a bit of a challenge, but I was thankful that attention was drawn to the living Word of God, how valuable it was to me, and how it was changing my life. There wasn’t a fancy name or organized initiative for it back then. I was just a guy trying to be devout in my faith. But now we do have a name for it: The 1-Month Challenge.

It’s pretty simple: for one month carry your Bible with you everywhere you go. Don’t tuck it away in your backpack or purse, but carry it in your hand is a visual display your commitment to Christ and your desire to pray, live, tell, serve, and give as a missionary for the Gospel. Make it a physical version of the Bible rather than a digital version on your iPod. Everybody does stuff on their iPod in their spare time, so no one will really think anything of it if you’re reading your Bible on it. But an actual physical edition of God’s Word will make people notice what you’re doing. Then they’ll start to ask questions. Carry it everywhere: school, work, home, church, the mall, the movie theater, football games, hanging out with your friends, everywhere!

Start by committing to do this for one month, just 30 days. See where that takes you and the conversations it opens up. Then consider making it a part of your lifestyle. Here’s some great resources to help you:

National 1-Month Page

1-Month Video[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/28532190[/vimeo]

The 1-Month Callenge Editor’s Note: We’ve been doing a series called “Taking Initiative.” The commitment of a Campus Missionary, and the desire to impact a school for Jesus Christ, requires that we think and act creatively to accomplish this goal. Taking initiative means that we actively try to share and demonstrate our faith in school. For the...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 1 )

Taking Initiative – Part 2for: Students

Editor’s Note: Last week we had the first of a series called “Taking Initiative.” The commitment of a Campus Missionary, and the desire to impact a school for Jesus Christ, requires that we think and act creatively to accomplish this goal. Taking initiative means that we actively try to share and demonstrate our faith in school. For the next few weeks we will look at some different initiatives that you can take on in your school as you Pray, Live, Tell, Serve and Give.

30 Second Kneel Down

Long before Tim Tebow made taking a knee in prayer popular, students were bowing for prayer in their schools. The 30 Second Kneel Down began over 15 years ago from the vision of a guy named Tom Sipling. The initiative is simply to take 30 seconds at the start of each school day to bow your knee and pray, perhaps at your locker, and ask God to help you through the day. You can also take time to pray for your friends, your school, your family, or anything else that may be on your mind.

You can actually pray for quite a lot in 30 seconds. And when you’re kneeling in your school for prayer while everyone else is getting books out of their locker or hurrying to get to class before the bell rings, 30 seconds will seem like an eternity! But I challenge you to take initiative and pray for 30 seconds on bended knee to start your school day. The 30 Second Kneel Down is an open, visual display of your commitment to God and your commitment to pray for your school.

Originally, the following pattern was recommended for the 30 Second Kneel Down:

  1. Give thanks for 10 seconds. “Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!” (1 Chronicles 16:8 ESV).
  2. Pray for your School for 10 seconds (students, teachers, administration). “And when He (the Holy Spirit) comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…” (John 16:8 ESV).
  3. Pray that God will use you to spread the Gospel to those in need for 10 seconds. “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:20 ESV)

You can follow that pattern, or you can spend the 30 seconds praying however you wish. The 30 Second Kneel Down organization cited the following stats about what could happen if Christian students everywhere prayed for 30 seconds to start the school day:

  • 10 students x 30 seconds x 180 school days = 15 hours of prayer each school year
  • 30 students x 30 seconds x 180 school days = 45 hours of prayer each school year
  • 100 students x 30 seconds x 180 school days = 150 hours of prayer each school year

How about if every Campus Missionary in Pennsylvania and Delaware started this? Last year we had 589 Campus missionaries. That’s over 883 hours of prayer each school year!

Editor’s Note: Last week we had the first of a series called “Taking Initiative.” The commitment of a Campus Missionary, and the desire to impact a school for Jesus Christ, requires that we think and act creatively to accomplish this goal. Taking initiative means that we actively try to share and demonstrate our faith in school. For...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 2 )

Tell Us How Your See You At The Pole Wentfor: Students, Youth Leaders

Hey Campus Missionaries!! Use the comment section below to tell us how your See You At The Pole went!

I was at New Castle High School in New Castle, PA and about 45 students came out. It was awesome! Tonight they are doing an event at their school to share the gospel, and a few of the students at the flag pole were passing out invitations to the event afterwards.

How was your See You At The Pole?

Hey Campus Missionaries!! Use the comment section below to tell us how your See You At The Pole went! I was at New Castle High School in New Castle, PA and about 45 students came out. It was awesome! Tonight they are doing an event at their school to share the gospel, and a few of the...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 7 )

Taking Initiative – Part 1for: Students

Editor’s Note: Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring a series called “Taking Initiative.” The commitment of a Campus Missionary, and the desire to impact a school for Jesus Christ, requires that we think and act creatively to accomplish this goal. Taking initiative means that we actively try to share and demonstrate our faith in school. For the next few weeks we will look at some different initiatives that you can take on in your school as you Pray, Live, Tell, Serve and Give.

See You At The Pole

The national day of student led, student initiated prayer will take place Wednesday, September 26. Every Campus Missionary should be a part of this event. Prayer is the first commitment of a Campus Missionary, and the opportunity to join with other students from your school who are gathered for prayer is something you won’t want to miss. Here are some ways that you can take initiative:

Arrange. Talk with your parents or some friends to make sure you have a ride, or to see if they need a ride to See You At The Pole. You don’t want the day to arrive and realize you can’t get there because you haven’t made arrangements. Arrange your schedule and your life to get there.

Advertise. Print off posters to hang up around your school (be sure to get permission first). Ask the person in charge of your school announcements if an announcement can be made about See You At The Pole.

Lead. Who is coordinating See You At The Pole at your school? Can you help that person or group? If no one is taking that initiative, then you should lead it. Check out this video. It gives helpful hints for planning and leading your See You At The Pole.

Catalyze. Dictionary.com defines the word catalyst as “a person or thing that precipitates an event or change.” See You At The Pole will energize and encourage Christian students in your school. How can you harness that energy for a greater impact that lasts beyond one day? Consider asking the students in attendance if they would meet once each month (or week) for prayer. Maybe your fellow students gathered around the flagpole are the founding members of a Bible Club that doesn’t yet exist in your school. Catalyze a movement for Christ in your school by harnessing the energy of See You At The Pole.

Editor’s Note: Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring a series called “Taking Initiative.” The commitment of a Campus Missionary, and the desire to impact a school for Jesus Christ, requires that we think and act creatively to accomplish this goal. Taking initiative means that we actively try to share and demonstrate our faith in...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 0 )

Outreach Ideas for Your Bible Club (Advance 2012)for: Podcast

Download the Notes Book (pdf)

Play

Download the Notes Book (pdf)

Posted by:     Comments: ( 0 )

Anyone Can Be A Campus Missionaryfor: Students

Sierra is a great Campus Missionary and co-leader of her Bible Club near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She first came to church after being invited to See You At The Pole and a Bible Club meeting at her school. Because of the impact of other Campus Missionaries, Sierra was able to know Christ and become a great Campus Missionary herself. Here’s what she says about being a Campus Missionary:

Anyone can be a Campus Missionary. John 14:1 says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these…”

The message of this verse is phenomenal. Jesus turned water into wine, healed the blind, and raised the dead to life. But this verse tells us we can do more than that. We can use this same power to glorify God.

I encourage any student reading this article to become a Campus Missionary. It’s a decision that will change your life forever. Don’t over think it. Everyone on Earth isn’t called to be a youth pastor, senior pastor, or even the president of his or her Campus Club. But, everyone is called to lead people to Christ.

I love what Sierra ends with, “everyone is called to lead people to Christ.” Paul said, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” What are some of the ways you can make an appeal for God in your school?

Sierra is a great Campus Missionary and co-leader of her Bible Club near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She first came to church after being invited to See You At The Pole and a Bible Club meeting at her school. Because of the impact of other Campus Missionaries, Sierra was able to know Christ and become a great Campus Missionary...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 2 )

The Solution:for: Youth Leaders

Five Ways of Addressing the Challenges of Campus Ministry

A few weeks ago my friend, Rob Gillen, wrote a great entry entitled “The Problem: Five Reasons Youth Pastors Don’t Do Campus Ministry.” He identified some of the core fears and hindrances that keep youth pastors from engaging the Campus as a mission field and as a relevant component of student spiritual development. Interestingly, none of the identifiable problems were material. They are all philosophical, ethereal, missiological problems. Here’s some suggestions, along those lines, to tackle these problems:

(1) Problem: Campus Ministry is intimidating. Solution: Step outside your comfort zone. Was it intimidating for Moses to confront Pharaoh? Was it intimidating for Jonah to preach to Nineveh? Did Peter find it easy to step outside the boat? Anything worth doing will carry a level of intimidation. Your real fears are rejection by campus officials and failure to succeed in an uncomfortable environment. Recognize three things: You can do this even though it’s uncomfortable (Phil. 4:13), there is a power inside you to overcome these obstacles (Acts 1:8), facing intimidation is a blessing from God and a path to growth (James 1:2-3).

(2) Problem: Campus Ministry requires time, effort & commitment. Solution: Make time for what’s important to you. I’m assuming you’re in youth ministry because you care about teenagers and want to make disciples of Christ. This is important to you. However, no one can become a disciple of Christ without adopting His missional ethos; to seek and save that which is lost (Matt. 18:11, Luke 19:10). If you’re not adopting this ethos personally, and you’re not building this into your students, you’re not making time for what’s important to you. Your youth ministry may be a safe and fun “club” that students belong to, but you can’t make disciples without mission.

(3) Problem: Campus Ministry requires growth on the part of the leader. Solution: Find a mentor and do some reading. Everything that grows changes. It’s one of the fundamental rules of life. The inverse is also true, everything that refuses to grow doesn’t change. To help you through this growth, find a coach-mentor (Phil. 3:17), and read some books on leadership and the missional church. Contact me by emailing Lee@reachtheschool.com for suggestions.

(4) Problem: Campus Ministry yields very few accolades. Solution: Figure out what a win looks like and highlight it. The current mission of the church is a little off kilter from missio Dei (the mission of God). You may need to start defining what a win looks like in campus ministry and identify scriptural principles to go with it. For example: student’s sharing their faith, campus ministries being planted, new visitors as a result of campus ministry, etc.. Once you define what a win is, start highlighting the win and the scriptural principle to your leader and church. Soon the accolades will be rolling in.

(5) Problem: Campus Ministry beckons a youth leader to acknowledge the real “war” taking place. Solution: Put yourself into secular teenage contexts. If you think your youth ministry is changing the larger context of students in your community, try spending some time in their world: athletic events, the local mall on a Friday night, and, best of all, High School Dances. This will give you a broader look at how wide ranging your impact is and spark a passion in you to change things.

Five Ways of Addressing the Challenges of Campus Ministry A few weeks ago my friend, Rob Gillen, wrote a great entry entitled “The Problem: Five Reasons Youth Pastors Don’t Do Campus Ministry.” He identified some of the core fears and hindrances that keep youth pastors from engaging the Campus as a mission field and as a relevant...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 1 )

Keeping it in Frontfor: Youth Leaders

At our our back-to-school retreat in September (Advance), we took time to honor a few of the most committed campus missionaries in the PennDel District. These students not only committed to be campus missionaries during the past school year, but they also consistently reported on their activities through our online campus missionary reporting system. It’s very easy to inspire students to commit to be campus missionaries. However, it’s an entire different matter to see them follow that commitment through on a consistent basis throughout the school year. Furthermore, it can be a challenge to get them to consistently report on their activities through the online system. There were two churches that consistently had several students reporting, one of them was Assembly of God of North East. Kris Lewis is the youth pastor there, and I asked him how he was able to procure such consistent results from his students. He thought about it for a few weeks and then sent me this reply:

“I know there have been a couple times when you have asked me what I have done to “prompt” or encourage my students to be CM’s and fill out their reports.  And really the funny thing is I really haven’t done much.  We come to Advance every year, and that really has been the driving force behind it.  From Advance and the focus on CM’s, our students started a prayer meeting at their school (we represent only one school for the most part), took ownership of SYATP and really lead the other church youth groups it seems in our area.  Again I really don’t know where it comes from… LOL.

From the Ministers Enrichment this year when Dick Foth was talking about keeping it Simple, and then also in our break out session if I had to put my finger on it. I guess I can say the big reason is that we TALK and fuel our students to do all the work at their school.  Kind of fueling their fire from Advance by talking about and giving opportunities for them to invite a peer.  LOL, really just teaching and releasing for ministry.”

Kris has identified one of the key principles to success in youth ministry. I call it the “Keeping it in Front of Them” principle. Someone else much smarter than me has probably already identify this and given it a more proper name. Regarding his success, Kris writes, “the big reason is that we TALK and fuel our students to do all the work at their school.” He consistently fuels their fire. He keeps it in front of them. If you want students to retain and stay committed to the things you’ve taught them, you’ve got to keep it in front of them. Not just once, not just twice. You got to keep it in front of them on a consistent basis throughout the year. What are you doing to keep Campus Missions, or any of your core youth ministry values, in front of your students?

At our our back-to-school retreat in September (Advance), we took time to honor a few of the most committed campus missionaries in the PennDel District. These students not only committed to be campus missionaries during the past school year, but they also consistently reported on their activities through our online campus missionary reporting system. It’s very easy...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 0 )

Alone On Your Campus?for: Students

Have you ever felt alone as a Campus Missionary in your school? Would it surprise you to find out the Apostle Paul felt lonely from time to time, as well? Paul was a social person, even though he wasn’t married. He always stayed with people when he went from town to town, and he always took others with him on the journey of spreading the gospel. In fact, it seems as though he had difficulties being alone. He talks about this in 2 Timothy 4:9-18. In fact, he struggled with the fact that his earthly companions abandoned him in a time of need. He writes, “The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear” (vss. 16–17 NLT-SE).

Notice that Paul did not allow his loneliness to become an excuse for why he couldn’t share the gospel. On the contrary, Paul writes that he relied on the Lord, who stood with him and gave him strength. Why? So that Paul could continue to preach the gospel. Today you may be feeling all alone. You may even feel like you’ve been abandoned in a trial or difficulty. But God is with you! Rely on Him, and continue to share the gospel with those who haven’t heard it. Keep in mind that those who sit near you in class are probably even more lonely than you are. They are just waiting for someone to be their friend. That friend is you.

Have you ever felt alone as a Campus Missionary in your school? Would it surprise you to find out the Apostle Paul felt lonely from time to time, as well? Paul was a social person, even though he wasn’t married. He always stayed with people when he went from town to town, and he always took others...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 0 )

Are You Blind, or Do You See?for: Youth Leaders

Last week I had the honor of recruiting Campus Missionaries at a great youth group in Central Pennsylvania. When I am challenging students to become CM’s, I like to explain the fivefold commitment of pray, live, tell, serve, and give. That can be quite a task when you only have 30-45 minutes to explain, inspire, and have a response time. I usually try to incorporate the five commitments into the inspirational portion of my message so it naturally intertwines. While speaking about the “give” element of a Campus Missionary, I referenced Proverbs 29:7, “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern”(NIV).

I recognize that words justice, injustice and the phrase social justice have become large buzz words over the past decade. That is not a bad thing. The prophets of the Old Testament were huge advocates of social justice. Isaiah was especially sickened by the ornate nature of Israel’s religious class when compared to the poor in Hebrew society. In a sound rejection of Israel’s showy fasting habits, he wrote, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6 NIV).

There is great injustice happening in our own neighborhoods that we frequently do not recognize. Perhaps the focus on global justice has taken our eyes off of being locally focused on mission, as well. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in good social justice. Providing clean water, medical care, and education to impoverished people groups are things the church should be leading in. We definitely recognize the injustice of children born into areas of the world where they will not have access to the basic needs of humanity. But do we recognize the injustice that is happening in our own neighborhood? I am speaking of Spiritual Injustice. Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19 ESV). He was talking about the great Spiritual Injustice that existed then and still exists today.

Are you blind to this injustice? If you were to look at the composition of your youth ministry, what would that look like? Do the students in your youth ministry primarily come from Christian homes? My guess is that, for most youth ministries, the answer is yes. That is because most of our students grew up with the privilege of a Christian witness in the home. However, there are thousands of students in each of our neighborhoods who have not had the same privilege. This is Spiritual Injustice. This is what Jesus came to correct. When the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus, the Father spoke, “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles” (Matthew 12:18 ESV). We only add to the injustice if we are unwilling to be missional in our context.

So what can we as youth leaders do? We are called, as pastors, to eqiup the Saints for the work of the ministry. Addressing Spiritual Injustice begins with teaching our students to be missional in their schools. Begin by casting vision in your ministry for missional living. Consider Recruiting Campus Missionaries as a starting point. Begin to pray for a burden for your schools. Do something! Injustice will never be corrected while we only talk about the problem. You are the primary line of discipleship to the students in your youth ministry. Therefore, the impetus is on you to missionally shape them.

Last week I had the honor of recruiting Campus Missionaries at a great youth group in Central Pennsylvania. When I am challenging students to become CM’s, I like to explain the fivefold commitment of pray, live, tell, serve, and give. That can be quite a task when you only have 30-45 minutes to explain, inspire, and have...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 0 )

Sticks and Stones…for: Students

Do you know the power of your words? There is an old rhyme that says, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” The truth is words are powerful and have the capacity to build up or tear down. The words you say have the power to make you an effective Campus Missionary, or they can make you a person people don’t want to be around. This truth is not limited to those whom you want to reach as a Campus Missionary, either. If you speak negatively to teachers, parents, or others around you, it can also affect your success as a Campus Missionary.

James, the brother of Jesus wrote, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (James 1:26 ESV). As a Campus Missionary you have made a commitment to live for Christ (you’ve also made a commitment to pray, tell, serve, and give). How you choose to control your tongue directly affects the effectiveness of your commitment. James says if you don’t control your tongue, you aren’t living for Christ very well. To put it another way, if you are living for Christ but refuse to control your tongue, you have fooled yourself into believing you are more committed than you actually are.

Make a commitment to honor God with your mouth. You will be a very effective Campus Missionary if you honor God with your words by building up the people around you. As David wrote, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalms 19:14 NIV).

Do you know the power of your words? There is an old rhyme that says, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” The truth is words are powerful and have the capacity to build up or tear down. The words you say have the power to make you an effective Campus...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 0 )

Beyond the Polefor: Students

Wednesday, September 28 is the global day of student prayer around the flag pole. At 7am local time, students will pray for their schools, lift up the name of Jesus, and worship His name. Whether there is a crowd of 100+, or just one person, it will be a momentous event.

The theme for this year’s SYATP is “Converge,” based upon Matthew 18:20. Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (ESV). The idea is that Jesus is there with you every time you join together with someone in prayer. Of course, the Holy Spirit is always in you, from the moment you became a Christian. So when you come together in prayer, it’s a very special convergence (meeting together for a common reason) of each person involved—you and your friends, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus. This will happen when you are gather around your flag pole on Wednesday morning. You will bring the Holy Spirit and Jesus into your school when you pray together.

As much as I celebrate your dedication and courage in prayer at your school, I have to ask, “Why aren’t you doing this every week?” Why are you only gathering for prayer like this every fourth Wednesday in September? Doesn’t your school need the presence of the Holy Spirit (through you), and the presence of Jesus (through your prayer together with other Christians), every day? Think about it. Then think about what you can do to make this convergence happen more often.

Wednesday, September 28 is the global day of student prayer around the flag pole. At 7am local time, students will pray for their schools, lift up the name of Jesus, and worship His name. Whether there is a crowd of 100+, or just one person, it will be a momentous event. The theme for this year’s SYATP...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 1 )

Bringing It Homefor: Youth Leaders

Most of us have had the experience of a weekend youth retreat. In addition to coming back tired and worn out, we come back excited about the work God did in our lives and in the lives of our students. We are exhilarated by the enthusiasm for Christ our students are exhibiting. We are convinced that change has occurred, and that this change will reverberate through our youth ministry. And that’s really where we want to be. We don’t just want to bring our students home, we want to bring the change home.

On Labor Day weekend, many of us were together for an awesome weekend retreat called ADVANCE. This back-to-school retreat saw many students making commitments to become Campus Missionaries and recording a goal for this school year. I was very pleased with the outcome of the retreat, and most youth leaders I’ve spoken with were equally enthused. Now we have to bring it home.

Let’s talk about bringing it home. First, a few realities:

  • You can bring students home. You can even bring changed students home. But you can’t bring the retreat home. The band, video, lighting, and general retreat-environment will stay behind.
  • Students will expect to maintain the spiritual-emotional high they experienced at the altar. Can we blame them? But in reality, we weren’t designed to maintain such a euphoric state. Our body, mind, emotions, and spirit are affected by the ebb and flow of our environment.
  • Not everyone in our youth ministries experienced the retreat. Some groups just had a few of their students in attendance, others had a majority. Regardless, there will be some who missed out on what the others experienced.

Now, let’s work on bringing it home:

  1. Explain the difference between emotional impulse and spiritual commitment. If students calculate what happened at the altar as an emotional high, the results will only last as long as their emotional state. Recognize that emotion is a part of the decision making process, but that a spiritual commitment is not dependent on an emotional state. We may no longer “feel it,” but our commitment is still important. A good example of an emotional roller coaster in scripture is Elijah, whose manic-depressive journey 1 Kings 18-19 speaks to us all about the fragility of human emotion and the steadfastness of God.
  2. Take ownership of the results. Move forward from the retreat by allowing students to testify to what God did in their lives, set up a support system to help them achieve their goals and dreams, and provide accountability and encouragement as time goes on. If students perceive you are not interested in what God did in their lives, they will quickly lose interest as well. You are their shepherd, and the value you place on God’s work in them validates it from their perspective.
  3. Replicate the process in rest of your group. It’s unlikely that all your group was a part of ADVANCE, or any retreat you’re doing. So encourage them to make the same commitments the rest of the group made. Include them in what God did, and make use of the students who did go to the retreat in the process. Get your whole group on the same page. In the case of ADVANCE it would look like this: (a) highlight students who made a commitment to be a Campus Missionary, (b) explain what it means to Pray, Live, Tell, Serve, and Give, and (c) offer the remaining students an opportunity to commit to be a CM.

Need help recruiting Campus Missionaries? Read this post on Getting Started in Campus Missions, then check out our related posts.

Most of us have had the experience of a weekend youth retreat. In addition to coming back tired and worn out, we come back excited about the work God did in our lives and in the lives of our students. We are exhilarated by the enthusiasm for Christ our students are exhibiting. We are convinced that change...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 1 )

Have You Heard of the 1 Month Challenge?for: Students

[vimeo]http://www.vimeo.com/28532190[/vimeo]

Have you heard of the One Month Challenge? This is a challenge to all students and leaders to carry their Bibles with them everywhere they go. I challenge you to do it!
Don’t just carry your Bible at church, or to youth group, but make it a part of everything you are doing. Take it to school, work, the movies, home, to a friends house…you’ll be amazed at the places your Bible goes with you…maybe you should even take a picture of the great places it ends up.

Seriously, are you prepared for the courage and tenacity it will require to carry God’s Word with you everywhere? I don’t mean to carry a Bible app on your iPhone or iPod Touch. I don’t mean carrying a Bible around in your backpack or purse, hidden where it can’t be seen. I challenge you to carry your Bible with you for all to see—not as a sign of personal pride—but as a sign of humble devotion to Jesus Christ.

Here’s three good reasons to carry your Bible everywhere:

  1. Stronger Commitment. Carrying your Bible everywhere will strengthen your commitment to God’s Word and to God himself. You will be opened to questioning, and perhaps ridicule, but your resolve and dedication will exponentially increase. When I began carrying my Bible with me in 11th grade, I was treated differently—but in a that made me a stronger Christian and got me into the Word.
  2. Conversation Opener. Yes, people are going to wonder why you are carrying your Bible everywhere. So why not tell them? Carrying your Bible is a perfect conversation starter that can help you explain your devotion to Christ and share Christ with others.
  3. It’s God’s Word! Listen, do you really need a good reason to carry around your Bible? I say no! It’s God’s Word, and we should want it with us wherever we go. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Take that light with you and read it wherever you go!

So…are you ready to take the challenge?

For more information on the 1 Month Challenge, check the national Youth Alive Website.

http://www.vimeo.com/28532190 Have you heard of the One Month Challenge? This is a challenge to all students and leaders to carry their Bibles with them everywhere they go. I challenge you to do it! Don’t just carry your Bible at church, or to youth group, but make it a part of everything you are doing. Take it to...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 2 )

The First Steps in Starting a Campus Clubfor: Students

So… you’ve decided you want to start a Campus Club… what’s the next step? Getting your Campus Club off the ground depends on a number of factors, but there are generally three things that every student needs to get the club going. Let’s talk about each of those necessities.

  1. You Need Club Members. Talk with the Christians you know in your school and see if they’d be interested in joining the club. If interested, have them sign the Student Interest Sheet (PDF), which you can present to your principal and teacher-sponsor when you meet with them. This will also give you the information you need to be in contact with those who are interested.
  2. You Gotta Have a Teacher-Sponsor. How do you find a teacher-sponsor? Try asking. Start with a teacher you know, or that you know to be a Christian. If you don’t know any Christian teachers, why not a teacher if they are a Christian, or if they know if any of the teachers are Christian? A teacher-sponsor simply has to be available to be in the room when a Bible Club meeting is taking place. It’s that simple.
  3. You Can’t Have a Club Without School Approval. As a student, it’s easy to view the principal as the disciplinarian who makes and enforces rules. After all, when someone gets into big trouble, they go to the principle’s office. You should keep in mind, however, the primary job of a principal is to guide students through their education so they graduate successfully. In other words, the principal exists to help you. Youth Alive has a great guide for meeting with the principle, which you can download here (PDF). One important thing to remember is that you aren’t really asking you principal for permission to have a club, because The Supreme Court of the United States has already given you permission. Instead, you should be asking your principal how clubs are formed, what policies need to be followed to get your club started, etc.

You can do this! And if you do, you are well on the way to getting a Campus Club going in your school.

So… you’ve decided you want to start a Campus Club… what’s the next step? Getting your Campus Club off the ground depends on a number of factors, but there are generally three things that every student needs to get the club going. Let’s talk about each of those necessities. You Need Club Members. Talk with the Christians you know...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 1 )

I recently had a conversation…for: Youth Leaders

I recently had a conversation with a youth pastor regarding Campus Missions. His youth ministry was not active in their local school systems, and he was apologetically trying to explain why. “We’ve been told that we are not welcome in the school system, so unfortunately we can’t be involved in Campus Missions.”  He went on to explain, “Evidently a youth pastor really messed things up years ago by overstepping the legal boundaries, and now the schools won’t have anything to do with youth pastors.” This is a familiar story that I’ve heard many times over. I’ve also personally experienced the rejection of an administrator who felt the presence of a youth pastor on campus would violate the United States Constitution. Sounds pretty serious. While I don’t agree with this decision by many school administrations, I also believe the youth pastor was wrong. He allowed a decision by an administrator to become an excuse that dictated the direction and scope of his youth ministry. More specifically, the rejection of the school system became a rule for what his youth ministry couldn’t do.

It’s easy to be intimidated by the campus. It’s also easy to be affected by rejection. But our God is bigger than one campus and one decision. Additionally, rejection does not change our mission, nor that of our students. And students are the key to dealing with rejection from a school administrator. This is because at it’s heart, campus missions is not about a youth pastor or youth leader. It’s about students rising up to become leaders in their own right. You can be successful in Campus Missions and be prohibited from being on campus at the same time. Just like youth ministry, Campus Missions is not about youth pastors—it’s about students. Does your view of Campus Missions mean that you have to personally be present, making an impact on the campus? Or does it mean that your youth ministry, through your students, has an impact on the campus?

You see, an administration can prohibit a Christian youth pastor from coming to school. But they can’t prohibit Christian students from coming to school. Even if they tried to prohibit a Bible Club from officially forming, they couldn’t prevent students from exercising grassroots Christianity. They can’t stop students from gathering for prayer, reading their Bibles, or sharing their faith. As leaders, we cannot use personal rejection or perceived legal decisions as an excuse for ineffective Campus Missions. No, you may not personally be allowed on the campus, but your students are allowed.  Not only are they allowed, but they are required to be there. So instead of making excuses, let’s start building missional students. Through the discipleship process of building missional students, our spiritual presence on the campus will be more powerful than our personal physical presence could ever be. It’s not about us—it’s about students.

I recently had a conversation with a youth pastor regarding Campus Missions. His youth ministry was not active in their local school systems, and he was apologetically trying to explain why. “We’ve been told that we are not welcome in the school system, so unfortunately we can’t be involved in Campus Missions.”  He went on to explain,...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 0 )

5 Reasons to Start a Bible Clubfor: Students

Starting a Bible Club is a great and important consideration in the life of a Campus Missionary. Here’s five good reasons to start a Bible Club:

  1. You are not alone. There may be times you feel you’re all alone as a Christian in your school. The truth is there are many Christians in your school, but they are mostly afraid to stand out alone. Starting a Bible Club provides a way for Christians to easily identify one another and join together for encouragement, accountability, and outreach.
  2. You are a leader. Christians are not alone in most schools, but they won’t realize it until a leader steps up to unite them. Additionally, when you start a Bible Club, you show yourself to be a leader to those who do not yet know Christ. Many students are just waiting for someone who will lead towards Christ.
  3. You are planting a church. Every Bible Club that’s planted is actually a church plant in that school. It is an organized fellowship of believers that exists to worship God, disciple believers, and reach the surrounding culture. Just as a church functions as a light in a neighborhood, so your Bible Club will be a light in your school.
  4. The gospel is bigger than your youth group. You will be amazed at the number of Christians from different churches that will want to join with you. By reaching across church lines and joining together for the gospel, you can have a powerful impact on your school.
  5. You can reach your school—but not without help. One way or another, you need help to reach your school. A large part of that help will come from the Holy Spirit, but you will also need the help of other Christians in your school. That’s the way God has designed us.

 

Starting a Bible Club is a great and important consideration in the life of a Campus Missionary. Here’s five good reasons to start a Bible Club: You are not alone. There may be times you feel you’re all alone as a Christian in your school. The truth is there are many Christians in your school, but they...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 0 )

Promoting Your See You At The Polefor: Students

See You At The Pole is just a few weeks away, and by now I pray that you have begun to formulate a plan for putting your See You At The Pole together. Just as important as planning the actual event is promoting the event. See You At The Pole is not just an event for you and your friends, it’s an event that can and should attract Christians from all over your school, including many you may not even know. Here’s a few ideas to think about in promoting your See You At The Pole (SYATP):

  1. School Announcements. Talk to the person in charge of your school’s audio or video announcements and have SYATP announced with the date and time. This is a great way of promoting during the week of SYATP on Monday and Tuesday. Many schools allow this, some will not.
  2. Posters. Find out from the principle if you can hang up posters. Some schools will allow this, others will not.
  3. T-Shirts. If you cannot advertise over the announcements or by hanging up posters, consider yourself a walking advertisement. But some shirts from syatp.com, or make some yourself, and distribute them amongst your friends to advertise SYATP.
  4. Pole-Pass Lanyards or Wristbands. You could buy either of these items from syatp.com, or create them yourself. You can buy the lanyard rope and hook from any office supply store, and create the advertisement that will hang from the lanyard.

It’s also possible that you are able to plan your See You At The Pole because someone else is already in charge of it. That doesn’t mean you can’t be a part of what’s happening. Remember, one of the five commitments of a Campus Missionary is to “Serve.” What better way to serve then to approach the leadership and see how you can be a part, or to make some suggestions to how you could help the process.

See You At The Pole is just a few weeks away, and by now I pray that you have begun to formulate a plan for putting your See You At The Pole together. Just as important as planning the actual event is promoting the event. See You At The Pole is not just an event for you...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 0 )

Making a Decisionfor: Students

Making a decision can be one of the most trying ordeals any person can go through. Should I or shouldn’t I? What if I do? What if I don’t? Hopefully making a decision to be a Campus Missionary was not that difficult for you. Scripture is clear about our calling to represent Christ in our everyday lives. The Apostle Paul felt it was a high calling and stated, “I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24 ESV). Paul had made the decision to devote his life to Christ, and that directed the course of his life.

The decision to be a Campus Missionary makes a lot of other decisions easier. When faced with pressure to do something you know to be wrong—like cheating on a test, gossiping about someone, or telling a lie—the decision has already been made. You’ve already decided not to do any of those things because you are a Campus Missionary. Just as the Apostle Paul’s choice to devote his life to Christ drove him “to testify to the gospel” and to finish his race strong, so your decision to become a Campus Missionary helps set the direction of your future decisions. Remember, we “do not account” our lives of value, except that we may Pray, Live, Tell, Serve, and Give for Jesus Christ on our campus.

Making a decision can be one of the most trying ordeals any person can go through. Should I or shouldn’t I? What if I do? What if I don’t? Hopefully making a decision to be a Campus Missionary was not that difficult for you. Scripture is clear about our calling to represent Christ in our everyday lives....

Posted by:     Comments: ( 1 )

Getting Started in Campus Missionsfor: Youth Leaders

One of the key questions most Youth Pastors will ask when approaching the campus is, “Where do I start?” Should I personally go to the campus? Should we start a Bible Club? Should we bring in an assembly program like The Seven Project? The answer is actually much closer to home. Before launching all out into the campus, every youth pastor would be wise to recruit students from within their own youth ministry as Campus Missionaries. A Campus Missionary is simply “a student who follows Jesus at school.” A Campus Missionary commits to Pray, Live, Tell, Serve, and Give for Jesus Christ at their school. Here’s a few brief reasons to recruit students as Campus Missionaries:

  1. Recruiting Campus Missionaries puts the burden where it should be—on the students. Many pastors believe it is their responsibility to single-handedly reach a school or a city. This may be a noble approach, but it may also be an ego-centric approach. The truth is that we are called “to equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12). In our context of youth ministry, that means helping students view their school as the mission field it is and equipping them to reach it.
  2. Using a term like Campus Missionary defines purpose and seriousness, and creates an impetus for the task. Those of us in ministry recognize the serious task missionaries have before them—go into a foreign and strange land and make disciples. Using the word “missionary” helps define the role of the student and delineates the difference between them and the rest of the school. Their presence as a follower of Jesus is powerful, and being a Campus Missionary will help them to realize that.
  3. The Campus Missions structure provides great accountability and encouragement. As a registered Campus Missionary, students are expected to give a report each month on how they did in representing Christ on their campus. Those reports are shared with the National Campus Missionary director, myself as the district Youth Alive Missionary, and the youth pastor. I respond to each report that comes in personally, and so does our national director. Students, and you as a leader, are not alone in the goal of reaching the campus.

For more information on Campus Missionaries and the commitment involved, I recommend checking out yausa.com/campusmissionary

One of the key questions most Youth Pastors will ask when approaching the campus is, “Where do I start?” Should I personally go to the campus? Should we start a Bible Club? Should we bring in an assembly program like The Seven Project? The answer is actually much closer to home. Before launching all out into the...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 1 )

The Value of Timefor: Youth Leaders

Time is a valued commodity that, like many things, becomes more valuable when we have less of it. As a boy with plenty of it on my hands, time seemed to pass so slowly. As an adult with little time to spare, time moves much too quickly. Whether you have a little or a lot, time always moves forward. It never goes in reverse. Time is also the great equalizer—we all receive the same amount every week—168 hours.

In 2009, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a study on the average hours per weekday high school students spend on various activities. The average working student spends 8.4 hours sleeping, 5.7 hours on educational activities, and almost 3 hours on socializing, relaxing, and leisure. They spend an average of 1.5 hours working and .6 hours on sports, exercise, and recreation. Also showing up on the study was “religious, spiritual, and volunteer” time, which accounted for just .4 hours each day. In other words, students are spending almost 30 hours each week in school, and less than 3 hours each week in church. Sound like any students you know? What is evident from the study is this: the school system dominates the waking hours of the average students’ life. In the life of a student, time is always relative to school.

The apostle Paul talks about the value of time in his epistles. In Ephesians 5:15-16, he says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” He also says in Colossians, “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time” (4:5).

In relation to the campus, time speaks two things to us:

  1. Because the school system retains a monopoly on students’ time, we must engage the campus directly in our students lives. We would be naive, and perhaps a little arrogant, if we believed we could ignore the school system and it’s impact on our students’ walk with God. The time students spend with us is only 10% of the time they spend in school.
  2. Students must view time spent in school as relevant to their walk with God. Because their time is dominated by school, school must be relevant to God. If not, God will only become a compartmentalized part of their life and have nothing to do with their conduct at school or the use of their time in school.

I often hear the same statement from graduating seniors—“I wish I had done more to reach my school for Jesus Christ.” They have come to the sad realization that time is moving forward, not backward. Now that the threshold of graduation has been crossed, they cannot go back. Will your students look back after graduation with regret in relation to how they used their time? Or will they look back with satisfaction, knowing they followed Paul’s admonition to the fullest?

Time is a valued commodity that, like many things, becomes more valuable when we have less of it. As a boy with plenty of it on my hands, time seemed to pass so slowly. As an adult with little time to spare, time moves much too quickly. Whether you have a little or a lot, time always...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 0 )