"For Those Who Are Passionate About Reaching The Younger Generation"

Five Core Principles Core Principle #4: Penetrating the Student Culture

Penetrating Student Culture (Part 2)

Dr. Barry St. Clair

The Apostle John gave us a perfect cure for overcoming any fears about stepping into the student culture: perfect love. "Perfect love drives out fear" (I John 4:18). John's statement has two different applications. First, your love for Christ will motivate you to do whatever is necessary to bring students to Him. Second, as you get to know the students in your area, you will grow to love them so much that you will soon feel very much at home with them. Below are some tips that will help you "get in gear" as you approach a Touch Ministry.

  • Pray. Because Christ lives in you, you can do anything! (Phil. 4:13) Jesus is the One who helps you overcome the initial fear of going on campus. Claim His promises and provision for you, and pray that God will give you His peace about meeting new students (Phil. 4:6-7).
  • Think aggressively. Your first reaction to a Touch Ministry on campus may be, "That's not part of my personality." But as Christians, we are all "fishers of men" (Matt. 4:19). A fisherman does not expect the fish to jump into his boat. He goes where the fish are and aggressively tries to get them into his net. That's why you need to go where students are. Fearless youth workers are needed to "go fishing" for students!
  • Get involved. Jesus had no fear of sinners. He talked with them and He ate with them. As you get involved with students, it is amazing how your fears will disappear. Just focus on their needs instead of fears.
  • Identify with students. The greatest act of identification took place when Jesus came to earth as a man so He could reveal God to us (John 1:14). In the same way, you need to identify with the hurts, problems, joys, and triumphs that students experience so you can reveal Jesus to them.
  • Respond with sensitivity. Jesus had a phenomenal ability to sense the needs of individuals. Students may need the healing touch of a hug, a pat on the back, a shoulder to cry on, or someone they can count on. You can be that kind of friend to them.
  • Go with confidence. As a minister, Paul saw himself as God's representative-whether or not other people saw him that way (2 Cor. 5:20). He knew who he was and where he was going. Students may not always understand what you are doing, but as Christ's ambassador you will know that God sent you.
  • Care about people. Paul spent time investing his life in other people. He loved others as a mother loves her baby. He said that he gave people not only the Gospel, but also his very own life (1 Thes. 2:7-8). As you work with students, nothing will be more important than having caring relationships with them.

Getting Started

Once you begin to practice these principles with students, you will find that your fears melt away into real love for students. So how do you begin a Touch Ministry with students?

Step #1-Get permission to visit. Set up an appointment with the school principal to explain who you are and what you want to do. (Go with your youth minister, if you have one.) Offer to help any way you can because you care about students and want to help them. This approach opens the door. Making requests or demands doesn't go over very well, even for a worthy cause like a Bible study or an assembly.

Even if your school is closed to off-campus visitors, a Touch Ministry can still work for you. Look for creative alternatives concerning student activities outside of school (football practice, drill team rehearsal, students walking home, local hangouts, ball games, choir practice, drama rehearsals, etc.). You can usually find some way to meet students where they are.

Step #2-Select the best time for you. You can usually choose from several good times each day to get involved. Some suggestions are:

? Before school-Give students rides to school. Walk with them to class. Spend time meeting new students in the halls before classes start.

? During lunch-Eat with students in the school cafeteria. If a Touch Ministry is new for you, make an appointment to eat with one young person from your church. This will give you a good reason to go.

? Extracurricular activities-Participate by becoming a club sponsor, a coach for a school sport, a chaplain of a team, etc. Attend games, matches, meets, plays, and other school functions.

? After school/evenings-Become a "regular" at the local hangouts and spend time with students there.

Step #3 -Surround your Touch Ministry with prayer. Pray before, during, and after the times that you are to be with students. Prayer not only helps alleviate your fears. It also gives God an opportunity to prepare you to face specific students or problems.

Step #4- Continue to meet new students. The tendency is to stick with the students you know and like. Don't fall into this trap. Discipline yourself to spend time with different groups and meet new people on a regular basis.

Step #5-Don't push for school time or facilities. The temptation is to start out trying to get a room for devotions or a Christian club, or to request a time for an assembly. Resist the temptation. First build a trust relationship with the adults at the school. Then later you may have earned the right to begin these other activities. And always have a reason for being on campus. Do not go when school is in session except by permission of the administration or for special occasions such as assemblies, pep rallies, and other events open to the public.

In a Touch Ministry, remember the following basics:

  • Look for ways to serve students.
  • Play no favorites.
  • Practice learning names.
  • Be yourself.
  • Have a sense of humor without being insulting.
  • Be available.

Your goal in a Touch Ministry is to build relationships, not to promote the church. Make it your policy not to share Christ on campus, but to wait until you can be in a neutral setting. Be careful to focus on serving the needs of the school and the students. If you build friendships based on love, acceptance, and trust, students will want to know who you know! Then all you have to do is tell them.

ACTION POINT

1. Using the principles from Scripture described in this session, how can you overcome any personal fear of being involved in a Touch Ministry?

2. What steps do you need to take in order to start a Touch Ministry on or around a campus each week?

3. Begin now to compile the following information about your local campus and students:

Number of students in school:

Names of student leaders:

Administrative leaders:

Athletic programs:

Names of coaches:

Extracurricular activities:

Rules for visitors:

Names of school counselors:

Clubs:

Local Slang:

4. What are the times and activities where you can best begin a Touch Ministry?

5. Write down the names of three students you know. Jot a little information about each person beside his or her name.

6. To help you work the Touch Ministry into your schedule, make a record of your meetings with students during the rest of the quarter. Include the following information:

Student?s Name

Date

Time

Place

What You Talked About

?

?

?

?

?

?

? ? ? ?

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Memorize I Thessalonians 2:8. Continue your daily times alone with God.

Source Information

This article is from Building Leaders for Strategic Youth Ministry: Equipping Adults to Lead Students to Spiritual Maturity, by Barry St. Clair, pp. 59-62. Used by permission. This book is designed for use by youth ministers as they train other adults who want to be involved in youth ministry. It can be ordered through our bookstore by clicking "BUY RESOURCES" on the left menu or calling our office at 770-441-2247.

Author

Barry St. Clair is founder and director of Reach Out Youth Solutions, which equips youth workers and young people for strategic ministry through the church around the world. He has worked with youth leaders and young people for over 30 years in evangelism and discipleship. Barry holds both Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministries degrees and is the author of numerous books.