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...

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Learning to Follow Your Guidefor: Youth Leaders

Why you should let students lead you onto their campus

Have you ever watched the discovery channel when an explorer is visiting a far-off land? Perhaps they were delving into the ominous covering of the Amazon jungle, or maybe they were spelunking an intricate cave system. Every time you watch these thrill-seekers take the plunge into an unknown world, they’re never alone. There’s always a guide showing them the way, usually somewhere off camera.

These guides aren’t really experts on travel or exploration. They simply live in the area. They know the shortcuts, the native inhabitants, and they know how to survive in this foreign land that they call home.

The local high school is far from being the Amazon jungle, but every school is different. I’ve coached over two hundred students on six campuses, and every time I step into a new school, I instinctively know that this school is special. It may have similarities to other schools, but it’s a unique melting pot of its community.

When we decide to establish a presence at one of our local high schools, the first thing I do is choose a guide. I choose a student who knows God and who knows the school, the rest of the journey we can figure out as we go, it’s honestly a lot of fun “figuring it out.” I’ve met so many youth leaders, who are paralyzed in ministry trying to figure out every single detail of the process before they take the first step. I’ve learned to enjoy the journey and to trust my guide. It’s an adventure!

When we launch a campus ministry, I sponsor the club as a coach, but my students lead the way. They find a teacher who will host the club. They meet with the principal to get the green light. They rally their peers. And THEN, they invite me to join them as a coach to them and their leadership team. I attend the club and then coach them outside of school on how they can be more effective in ministry.

There’s an interesting dynamic that develops between you and your students when you decide to follow them onto their campus. You trust them, and they’re partnering with you. You’re in a foreign land, and they’re the only one that knows the way. They need your coaching, and you need their connections. Together, God will use you both to do some amazing things. The mentoring relationships that I have with my “guides” runs deep. They’ve proven themselves as difference-makers.

I sometimes wonder, does the greatest impact takes place in their school or in their heart? All of my former guides are now doing amazing things for Christ! Why not? The greatest challenge at their age is to evangelize their school. They’ve done their part. If they can live out their faith there, they can live it out anywhere.

For more information about following your students onto their campus, read another article on ReachTheSchool.com titled, Why I Go With Them.

Why you should let students lead you onto their campus Have you ever watched the discovery channel when an explorer is visiting a far-off land? Perhaps they were delving into the ominous covering of the Amazon jungle, or maybe they were spelunking an intricate cave system. Every time you watch these thrill-seekers take the plunge into an...

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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...

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Breaking the Threshold: 3 Simple Ways to be Present on Campusfor: Youth Leaders

My wife and I were watching a TV series on near-death experiences one night, and we heard the story of a hiker who got lost in the woods. He wasn’t that deep in the wilderness, he was only about three miles from the nearest road. The problem? He was hiking in circles. Unwilling to break away from his current track, he hiked the same circle over and over again. Soon, the sun began to set, and with no phone, no shelter, and no survival training, this young man died of hypothermia. He was alone in the woods, just a short distance from civilization.

In youth ministry today, this same story is being lived out in the lives of youth pastors and their students. We believe that if we just keep pressing forward, we’re going to eventually get the results that we’re looking for, but that’s not promised to us if we’re not being intentional about the direction in which we take our ministries.

One crucial way of being intentional is being present on the high school campus. I once heard Preston Centuolo say, “Students are in two places; their schools and social media. If we’re avoiding those venues – we’re not doing youth ministry.”

Ryan Sharp from www.everyschool.com writes “Don’t retreat back to the safety of the church and convince yourself that campus ministry isn’t for every youth pastor. It simply isn’t true.” I would echo his words with the call for youth pastors to make themselves personally present! Youth pastors belong on the high school campus.

Schools are communities within themselves. Once you’re in – you’re golden. But as an outsider, it can be uncomfortable at first. Here are 3 simple ways to be present on your campus:

1) Sponsor a Campus Ministry – Some schools already have strong clubs going. If that’s the case, see if your students are part of the club and have them invite you out to be a sponsor. If your students aren’t present, connect with the club and ask if you can be of assistance. Find out who’s currently sponsoring the club and invite them out for coffee (even if it’s a teacher – teacher’s like coffee too!)

One of the biggest excuses I hear from leaders is that their students aren’t interested in doing campus ministry so they can’t get on the campus. This just isn’t true. A friend of mine in ministry just ran into similar circumstances. His students weren’t attending the club because it wasn’t “hip”. So he took the initiative himself and started serving in the club without his students. Within a few weeks, his students started attending the club as well (this is called leadership). By the way, you’re “hipper” than you think!

2) Seek Opportunities to Serve – The needs on a high school campus are innumerable! Use your imagination. Young Life, a parachurch ministry,  compiled a list of 33 different ways their leaders are serving their schools in Indiana. Some may not apply to your context, but I bet at least five of them do.

3) Attend School Events– There is no substitute for longevity and relationship, but you can accelerate the process of earning trust with your school by being present on a consistent basis at events open to the community (sporting events, art shows, musicals and concerts, etc.). I try to find events where I can support multiple students.

If you see them, be sure to say hello to the principal, the assistant principal, or anyone in leadership. Politely and appropriately make your presence known. They’re probably not going to remember you at first because they meet thousands of people. That’s okay.  Once you approach them several times, they’ll put two and two together, that you’re someone important from the community and that you care.

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Being intentional takes time and effort, but honestly, is there any other path to take except the path that leads us to our destination, and to results?

The story of that hiker still grips my heart. It’s doubly important that we take the right path, because you’re not the only hiker on this trail. You’re students are following you. Lead the way, leader!

My wife and I were watching a TV series on near-death experiences one night, and we heard the story of a hiker who got lost in the woods. He wasn’t that deep in the wilderness, he was only about three miles from the nearest road. The problem? He was hiking in circles. Unwilling to break away from...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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The Problem:for: Youth Leaders

Five Reasons Youth Pastors Don’t Do Campus Ministry

Most youth pastors do not engage in campus ministry of any kind. This is a mistake. Although a spiritual battle takes place in our youth services once a week, the war is taking place on the campus. There are five simple reasons why youth pastors don’t do campus ministry:

(1) Campus Ministry is intimidating. Within a church, a youth pastor naturally belongs. They have a title and they have a purpose that’s understood by most. In a high school however, there isn’t the natural acceptance of a youth pastor joining the campus community. You’re not a teacher or a student and you’re entering a brand new culture. It can be very uncomfortable at first.

(2) Campus Ministry requires time, effort & commitment. As Mark Batterson once put it, “In ministry today, we do not lack creativity. Let’s call it what it is. We’re lazy.” This may sound harsh at first, but if we’re honest with ourselves – we tend to choose the path of least resistance, even when it’s sometimes not the most effective choice. Just like any ministry, campus ministry takes work and investment.

(3) Campus Ministry requires growth on the part of the leader. Communicating with teachers and administrators, ministering to students with no religious background, and coaching students in a radically different environment may require significant personal growth from the youth pastor.

(4) Campus Ministry yields very few accolades. Ministry is typically an affirming atmosphere for pastors at least in some shape or form -ever heard of “Pastor’s Appreciation Day?” You will receive very little affirmation for committing yourself to the high school. Some leadership contexts may not view the campus as the strategic mission field that it is.

(5) Campus Ministry beckons a youth leader to acknowledge the real “war” taking place. Ignorance is bliss. The youth room is a safe place for a youth pastor. The school is a lot more dangerous. Whether in class or participating in sports and extracurricular clubs, our students spend the great majority of their time on the campus.

Five Reasons Youth Pastors Don’t Do Campus Ministry Most youth pastors do not engage in campus ministry of any kind. This is a mistake. Although a spiritual battle takes place in our youth services once a week, the war is taking place on the campus. There are five simple reasons why youth pastors don’t do campus ministry: (1) Campus...

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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...

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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...

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