Bridging the Gap Between Churches and Schoolsfor: Youth Leaders

There is no greater place in your community to impact more people for God than your local schools. For every child that attends a school, there is a family. For every teacher, staff and administrator there is a family. Many area businesses provide goods and services for the schools. There are very few people in your community that are not connected in some way to a school campus. When a church ministers to a school, it ministers to an entire community.

Now, I know what you are thinking. “God’s not allowed in schools, so our church can’t minister there.” To say God isn’t allowed anywhere is an indictment on your view of God and on your faith in Him . God is God. He can go anywhere and do anything He wants. In fact, the Bible says God is omnipresent, so that means He is already at school. The Bible also says wherever two or more are gathered in His name, there He is also. If we are at the schools in His name, then He will be there with us.

So, the question isn’t “Is God allowed in schools?”. It’s, “Are we going to take God to schools?”

Here are 5 steps and 3 principles you and your church can use to begin ministering to a school and take God to the campus:

5 STEPS

  1. Begin praying for the campus. Ask students and staff for prayer requests. Pray for each student and staff member by name (Use a yearbook). Do prayer walks on your campus. Build a Prayer Zone around your school.
  2. Begin serving and meeting the needs of teachers, administrators and students that are members of your church. Ask them what they need for their classrooms or areas of responsibility and provide. Word will spread quickly that you are ready and willing to serve and others will request assistance. This will help build trust to open the door for step #3.
  3. Set up a meeting with the administration to ask them what needs they have as a school. Meet with the Guidance Counselors to learn about needs the students have. Begin by meeting one need. Once you have met one need, begin meeting others. NOTE: You will not be able to meet every need but you may be able recruit other churches and other businesses who can meet needs your church is unable to.
  4. Start asking “What do you wish for?” Teachers and administrators have a long list of needs…the things they must have in order to educate students. What really get’s interesting and creative is when you ask them what they wish they could do for their students. Most teachers and administrators have a “wish list” of things they have always wanted to do for their students but do not have the time, money or energy. Meeting a needs is a blessing, but meeting a wish is something much more powerful!
  5. Get involved! Join the Parent/Teacher Organization, the Band/Athletic Boosters, chaperone school dances, proctor standardized tests, mentor and assist students serving in campus ministries at the school…get involved wherever you see an opportunity.

3 PRINCIPLES

  1. Do not expect or ask for anything in return. One of the first things you will encounter is that the school will suspect you of having ulterior motives and wonder if they can trust you and your church. Most of the time these concerns are legitimate because they have been burned and mislead in the past by people claiming to have the school’s best interests at heart when in reality they had other plans. The school, although desperate for help, will not share their major needs and wishes with you until they know they can trust you. For example, when you provide notebooks for students, don’t slip in a gospel tract or flyer for your youth ministry. When they ask you to volunteer at the school, don’t show up with your Christian t-shirts on.
  2. Trust that God will use your servant’s heart to open doors for deeper ministry. If you approach every opportunity to serve as an opportunity to “preach”, your ministry at the school will not last long. While school officials are concerned about any ulterior motives you may have, they also understand that there is a greater purpose involved in your service. When serving students or adults at the school, simply meet their need…don’t force any spiritual discussion or direction. Trust that God will use your service to work in the hearts of those you are serving and that He will provide opportunities outside of your service to minister to them spiritually. (BTW, Jesus was a master at meeting physical needs first, them addressing spiritual needs.) So when you are chaperoning a dance, be polite and respectful of the students. If you catch two of them making out, politely ask them to stop and don’t give them a lecture on “True Love Waits”. Then, when you run into the students in the hallway of school the next week, or in Wal-mart the next day, they may approach you and ask you why you are always at their school or why you didn’t lower the boom on them like they expected. That’s when God opens the door for ministry to the soul.
  3. Earn the trust of the school and keep it. Be overly protective of any favor that you gain with the school administration. All it takes is for one person to cross a line or cause someone to complain, and the administration may limit or cut off your ability to serve. This would include blatant “proselytizing”, disruption of class time, or causing a burden to be placed on someone at the school. For example, if you serve the football team bottled water for practice and the school custodian has to put in extra work to pick up all the empty water bottles scattered across the practice field, that person may complain to the administration. Remember that your goal is to relieve stress on the school, not to create it….to be a blessing, not a burden.

The opportunity to minister to schools is wide open! We must simply do so in a way that honors and respects the school and it’s rules, while at the same time honors God with our servants hearts.

The schools need our help and want our help. So, what are you waiting for?

Getting Practical

Here is a list of things our church has done to serve the high school that sits across the street from our church. Please leave a comment and share any ministry ideas you have for schools.

  • The band & ROTC use our gym for band camp and drill team practice.
  • Provide the guidance staff male & female toiletry kits.
  • Serve at the prom each year as bathroom attendants and parking lot attendants and have provided hair and make-up artists to fix “wardrobe malfunctions”.
  • Provided breakfast for students and parents at orientation.
  • Provide water, cookies and chips to staff during teacher work days.
  • Provide coffee to assist the PTA serving breakfast to teachers and staff.
  • Serve in crisis response coordinating teens at the hospital and helping with communication between students, the hospital, parents and the schools. Coordinate with the guidance staff to connect local youth pastors to be available for counseling students after the death of a student.
  • Provide umbrellas for teachers on bus duty.
  • The school’s preschool program used our nursery for 2 years when their school had mold problems.
  • Youth group participates in prayer events for the campus throughout the year.
  • Provide volunteers for Field Days and proctors for standardized tests.
  • Administration has used the sanctuary for teacher training when school was undergoing renovations.

There is no greater place in your community to impact more people for God than your local schools. For every child that attends a school, there is a family. For every teacher, staff and administrator there is a family. Many area businesses provide goods and services for the schools. There are very few people in your community that...

Posted by:     Comments: ( 0 )

Raising Up Students Who Want To Do Campus Ministryfor: Youth Leaders

Getting students excited about doing ministry on their campus can be tough. But once it becomes the “new normal” in your youth ministry, there’s nothing your students won’t be able to accomplish. We’ve been serving on the campus now for nearly five years and we’ve discovered three big ways to raise up students who want to do campus ministry:

(1)   Campus Missions Curriculum – The campus is a big deal to us and our students know it! We take on ten different message series’ every year. The most important series we do will run through August and September.  We prepare students for the upcoming school year by doing two things: (1) We empower them to join/launch a campus ministry, and (2) we equip them with resources and training to impact their peers.  By the time school starts our students are chomping at the bit!

Big Idea: We challenge students to have a “five-friend focus” (www.yausa.com). A Five Friend Focus is a list of five friends they know who demonstrate a need for Christ.

(2)   Campus Missions Core – Like most youth ministries, we have several teams our students can join. Those who join our student leadership team share opportunities and responsibilities that other students do not have access to. There is a base requirement though – you must be actively involved in campus ministry. We believe that worship and fellowship take place in our youth facility, but leadership takes place on the campus.

Big Idea: Around the start of the school year our student leaders are challenged to invite at least two of their peers to their school’s campus club. These challenges are a requirement and our student leaders support each other and hold each other accountable to fulfill their goals.

(3)   Campus Missions Crew Chances are a student visiting our youth ministry has already attended one of our Campus Clubs. So when a student like James surrenders his life to Christ in our youth service, he already knows exactly where to go to start making an impact on his campus. Because their salvation journey started with a connection to a Campus Club, it’s natural that they want to do Campus Ministry and see the importance of it.

Big Idea: We purchase two six foot banners for each club and we post matching graphics on framed posters in our youth room.  We strategically do this to “sync” our youth ministry with our clubs.

Campus Ministry is part of our DNA now. But if the high school hasn’t been a strategic mission field for your youth ministry, do not be discouraged. Every great journey starts with a single step.  You’ll never regret making the campus a priority in your ministry.

Getting students excited about doing ministry on their campus can be tough. But once it becomes the “new normal” in your youth ministry, there’s nothing your students won’t be able to accomplish. We’ve been serving on the campus now for nearly five years and we’ve discovered three big ways to raise up students who want to do...

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 )

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 )

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 )

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 )