There are 250,000 teenagers in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania. Imagine what it would be like if all of those students were being prayed for! Teens For Christ is asking youth ministries all over the region to invite their students to pray for 3 friends from school who need to know Jesus. We have 5000 prayer cards (pictured above) and we'll send you however many you need for your group. Just shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's the thing - we have our students for an hour or two a week, but they spend 40 or so hours surrounded by people who need Jesus at their schools. If we are going to do student ministry, we have to take their schools into account. Here's why -
1) If your students can live out their faith at school, they can probably live it anywhere!
It's really easy to live our faith at church when surrounded by other believers. Anyone can do that. They real test of a genuine faith is, are we are able to live it surrounded by people uninterested in our faith or even hostile to it? If your students are living their faith at school, you can bet it's real.
2) If your students can share their faith at school, they'll be able to share it anywhere
Similarly, if your students can share their faith at school (a mostly non-friendly environment), they can probably share it anywhere! Seeing school as a daily mission will prepare them for whatever situation they may find themselves in - mission trip, college, business, human services, government, entertainment, etc. Once they begin approaching daily life missionally, chances are good that they will likely continue to do so throughout their lives.
3) Your students need to know they are not alone!
We all know the saying - there's strength in numbers. If your students can know that they don't have to do all of this alone, so much the better. Having a church family to retreat and regroup with is life giving. But having godly friends that they can go out into battle with - that's life saving! Being involved in a campus ministry helps your students know they are not alone in the most difficult arena for living a life of faith.
4) You need to reach students where they are - almost 90% of Americans go to public schools
If you have any desire to reach lost students, you have to go where they are - the problem is, youth pastors can't go there. The only way to reach lost students where they spend the majority of their time is to equip our students to love and serve their friends in the name of Jesus. Your youth ministry is not just what happens within the four walls of your church - an effective youth ministry must include a mission field and that is exactly what public schools are.
5) If you impact the school, you impact the community.
When reaching schools is part of your ministry strategy you don't just reach students - you begin to touch the community. Go to a high school football game any Friday night in the fall or go to a spring musical - schools have become the centers of community life. You want to impact the community? Make a point to have an impact on local schools.
All of that to say, we hope that you'll challenge your students to pray for their friends at school. And we hope that'll lead to a great impact on their whole school, your church, and the community!
This fall, I took students to the Silver Ring Thing for the second year in a row. It's a relatively new event for my students so their excitement to go and their excitement afterwards was encouraging to me. Here are the top reasons I will take students to SRT again:
1) The topics of sex and dating never go away - youth workers and parents will ALWAYS have to address these topics - why not get some help from a ministry that focuses on this 24/7.
2) It was funny - so many moments for laughter were built into the program. That's important for this topic and my students found lots of humor in the videos, the speaker, and the drama.
3) It was fast-paced multi-media - for 2 hours the SRT program kept the students attention with videos (lots of funny commerical spoofs), dramas, personal testimonies, music clips, audience participation, and a great speaker.
4) The people on stage were young - let's face it, teenagers are going to hear the message of purity better from people closer to their age who are still waiting than from older married people who are having that desire fulfilled already. The presenters on stage were all around 20 and that seemed strategically planned - and it was powerful to hear them share their hearts.
5) They presented the Gospel - sure they were talking about sex, but there was also a clear presentation of the Gospel and how to begin a relationship with Christ. And many responded to the invitation. That was awesome!
6) Clever use of technology - several times students were encouraged to use their cell phones during the program including signing up for ongoing follow up from Silver Ring Thing. Love that!
7) The rings can be bought at the event - as the name implies, silver rings to symbolize their commitment to wait were available for students to buy right after the show. Immediate application of what they were learning through the event - this was powerful.
8) Road trip! It was an hour and a half for us to get there but who doesn't love a road trip? My students do, so that worked out well (plus we ate at Five Guys which ratchets up the level of awesome pretty quickly).
9) The price was right - for only $6 online or $8 at the door, you get a great experience. This is a blessing to budget strapped youth ministries.
10) This decision affects their whole lives! Their future spouse, their future kids, their future grandkids, and their very own souls are impacted by deciding to wait for sex until marriage. Next to deciding to follow up Jesus, this is the biggest life impacting decision that our kids our going to make so we need to do EVERYTHING we can to help them make the right decision now.
11) BONUS: The Silver Ring Thing is a nation-wide ministry conference that was born in Pittsburgh and is headquartered here! How cool is that? They've been doing this 20 years and we need to support our local ministry entrepreneurs!
Check out www.silverringthing.com to learn more
photo by Bryan Cinelli
1) We have a great diversity of churches here - everything from the mega/cutting edge church to the small town community church can be found here. We've got urban churches, hipster churches, rural farming community churches, and churches of every theological stripe within a hundred mile radius.
2) We have a rich history of youth ministry innovation here - Fellowship of Christian Athletes had its beginnings in Pittsburgh, Young Life has been here since its beginnings and gave birth to the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation which has given birth to leadership foundations in other cities. The oldest youth ministry network in country, the Pittsburgh Kids Network, was born from that same legacy. The Silver Ring Thing (nation-wide purity ministry) was also born here.
3) We have strong youth ministry networks here - youth pastors in Pittsburgh and all around the city love to connect with each other. There are 8 youth ministry networks functioning around the region currently in connection with the National Network of Youth Ministries.
4) We have active campus ministry organizations here - Youth For Christ, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Young Life, Youth Alive, and Teens For Christ all have a strong presence on high school campuses around the region and are reaching students far from God in creative ways.
5) We have beautiful camping facilities - when it comes to summer camps, fall retreats, and winter weekends, there are a lot of options (at least 12 that we know of) for helping your students get away and get with God.
6) The activities are endless - amusement parks, water parks, bowling, paintball, mini golf, skiing, rock climbing, obstacle courses, and much more is all here and very affordable.
7) The concert / music scene is better than ever - some years ago Pittsburgh was a blackhole of Christian music, but no longer thanks to Generation Exodus, Winter Jam, WORD FM, and KLOVE. Chris Tomlin, Casting Crowns, TobyMac, Skillet, Hillsong United, the Newsboys, Lecrae, Tenth Avenue North, and others have filled our concert venues here for the last several years.
8) We've got excellent service project / short term mission organizations - we have amazing organizations that will help your students serve the community in creative ways like Urban Impact, The Pittsburgh Project, Light of Life Rescue Mission, World Vision Pittsburgh, The Dream Center, Living Ministry, YWAM Pittsburgh, and more.
9) We have a ton of other great resources to help your ministry - there are excellent local bands, several highly recommended professional Christian counselors, talented local speakers, and some awesome t-shirt/graphic design guys in this area.
10) We have the Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins! And if that's not enough, we have Primanti Brothers, Quaker Steak & Lube, and pizza places out the wazoo!
So if you're not here already, consider coming to Pittsburgh to do youth ministry!