It is inspiring to see how God works behind the scenes to lift up young leaders. Not long ago in Ohio there was an atheist group that was upset with some public high schools and middle schools that were allegedly allowing Christian clubs on campus to be led by outside youth leaders. In reality the Youth Leaders had been invited by the students, which is totally lawful. But through the whole ordeal something else happened. The atheist group was unknowingly elevating and encouraging Christian students to lead Christian movements at their own schools.
The story really goes back to the 1980’s when the US Senate passed The Equal Access Act that gives Christian students the right to organize and lead Christian clubs on their campus, as long as the school allows other clubs to exist as well. The solution for the Ohio schools was to instruct the students to be sure they are leading the clubs and the Christian outreaches that the clubs represented. Thus, the students led! It is another vivid and welcome reminder that God sovereignly paves the way for students to own their faith and lead out at their schools.
On campuses everywhere students are taking ownership for their faith and for reaching their fellow students. Student to student outreach, sharing Christ and follow-up are the most effective means of reaching students and schools. Campus ministry is the golden opportunity for youth leaders to empower students, and for students to grow in leadership and discipleship. A beautiful example of this is the ministry Jesus had with his disciples. He ‘taught and sent,’ ‘modeled and sent,’ over and over. And most of his disciples were teenagers. Campus outreach gives students and youth leaders an environment to see life change and discipleship they could never create on their own.
The approach to see this happen is what we would call a deep and wide student ministry. It is the process where teenagers go deeper into their relationship with God (a.k.a. “discipleship”) and at the same time go wider into the world with the gospel (a.k.a. “evangelism”). It brings teenagers and youth leaders together moving toward a Great Commission/Great Commandment mindset in everything they do. For students their natural mission field is where they spend most of their time, at school. Most Christian students are not interested in being entertained, they want to move past being spectators and lead on the field, in the game, with excitement and passion.
In a youth ministry world that is full of “the next new thing,” it’s easy to forget the basics of what Jesus has called us to do: to be disciples and to make disciples. If you are a student who wants to see more, then take the lead with other Christian students at your school. Use your creativity, pray, trust God, share Christ and test and see what God will do through you. If you are a youth leader, don’t miss the campus outreach opportunity to help you students develop. Make campus outreach a key pillar of your youth ministry and equip your students. The real question is… are students leading, because that is what they desire to do.
Here is a quick checklist:
- Are students being taught and equipped in sharing their faith?
- Are students being equipped to feed themselves from the Word?
- Are student leaders emerging in your movement who are owning their faith and developing vision for reaching their world?
- To what extent are you seeing life change taking place personally and among students in your youth group; at your school?
- Are real issues being dealt with…is there an openness and trust between students and youth leaders?
Empower Christian students. They will have the greatest impact for Christ in reaching their school.
Resources… for student leadership:
- Book – God So Loved
- How to Share Your Faith
- How to Begin a Ministry at School
- Discipleship – Helping Young Christians Grow
- Video – We Are The Leaders
- Show Your Colors
* Deep And Wide Ministry is a concept from Dare2Share