Faith That Lives Beyond A Building
In 2018, during my first internship with students, one of the first things that I noticed, was that students were great listeners and excellent doers. Every student I met during my internship was passionate about something. Whether it was Friday night lights, spending time with their friends, or spending countless hours on Fortnite—every conversation with a student circled back around to their passion. Whether talking to a student after Wednesday night service or Sunday morning Life Groups, their individual passions were highlighted through their conversation. To me, this was an excellent thing; every student is passionate about something.
However, on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings that same passion didn’t seem to show during worship, curriculum discussion, or even during prayer. Frustrated, I told my mentor, “I don’t get it, they are all passionate about something! They just aren’t all passionate about what matters.” His reply changed the way I do ministry today. “You’re right, every student is passionate about something. But how could they be passionate about what matters if we as student pastors haven’t prayerfully given them ownership and provided them with the mission and the strategy?” Student ministries are full of consumers, but how many are full of partakers? How many of our students know what the mission is and how many of us have equipped them to live out their faith beyond a building? As student pastors, we should be praying consistently for our students, giving them ownership in our ministries, and keeping the mission in front of them.
The Work is Done in Prayer
Since mid-December, our church has witnessed God move in a way that we have never seen before. We have seen over 700 people baptized, many of those being students. When people ask me, “What is it your team is doing to pull this off?” My response is always “Prayer.” That’s it? That’s all it takes? Don’t get me wrong, many ministries spend time as a team in prayer. But how many of us ask God for him to send more students, change the worship culture, or bring more volunteers? All of those things are important, but does out prayer life reveal a desire for stronger spiritual culture, more volunteers, or do we desire simply more of God?
Our student team began praying 5 years ago that we would have more of God and our students would experience a move of God. I remember being an intern and being in many of these prayer meetings and I walked away thinking, “What if our students began to pray with this same urgency and passion?” When that began to happen, we began to see God move in a fresh new way and we saw more students beginning to take ownership in our ministry.
Ownership Begins with One
Several weeks ago, one of our students felt called to give a challenge to our students. Through social media, he challenged each student in the room to post their testimony for the world to see. It resulted in hundreds of students posting their videos and scores of people being reached. We saw several give their lives to the Lord, adults being convicted to post theirs, and even our own student staff posting theirs.
Most student pastors would agree that ownership is something most ministries need more of. I would even say that schools being turned upside down for Jesus depend on students taking ownership to stand up and saying “Enough of casual Christianity, we want more of God and we will do whatever it takes to see our peers experience the same.” A student once asked me, “How close are we to experiencing this move of God?” I replied, “The distance between our knees and the ground.” Could you imagine what our ministries would look like if they were full of students that hit their knees in prayer and took ownership outside of the church building? For this to happen, students must know what the mission is.
The Great Commission
I believe that many, including myself, have viewed the Great Commission incorrectly in the past. Instead, we read and are even taught that the Great Commission is optional. We’ve treated it like it’s the great invitation rather than a command. “Go, therefore.” Instead of teaching our students how to go out into their schools and families and make disciples, we’ve placed a large emphasis on inviting them to more programming and being a part of more groups.
None of that is bad, in fact we need more students in community and serving in the local church, but we wonder why churches are filled with consumers rather than partakers. When we begin to teach our students that we are to live missional and intentionally, I believe we will see more students becoming the student pastors of their churches by faithfully doing ministry where they are planted. In our county, there are over 14,000 lost students. That number does not decrease unless our students become the student pastors of their ministries and they live out the Great Commission. Faith that lives beyond a building begins by hitting your knees and praying for more of God, taking ownership in your ministry, and living out the Great Commission.
“ Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
If you’re really ready to take the plunge you could consider starting a discipleship group! The D-Group Starter Guide will help you get things rolling! Pastors, equip your church members to disciple their kids and develop every other aspect of your discipleship ministry by checking out the Replicate Network.