The Opportunity of Student Ministry
By Garrett Wagoner
When you think about student ministry do you see it how God sees and has seen it historically? A common view of student ministry today is to put the students in a room separate from the adults, hire a student minister/director to occupy and entertain them until they graduate high school, but how does God see it?
How Does God view Student Ministry?
When you look into the Bible at the old and new testaments and church history you see that God always chooses students to be catalyst’s for national and worldwide revival and spiritual awakening!
Old Testament Student Ministry
An Old Testament example is King Josiah from 2 Kings 22. The passage says that he became king when he was 8 years old and by the time he was a teenager he was leading a spiritual awakening for the nation of Judah! God used him time to turn the tide of over 50 years of spiritual bankruptcy and idolatry. When a nation or people feels as if they are too far gone spiritually, the Lord God is always searching for loyal and willing hearts to turn them back and often this is students.
New Testament Student Ministry
A New Testament example is the disciples. If you do your research, you will see that all of them were teenagers except for Peter. We know Jesus used them to transform the entire world with the Gospel!
Historical Student Ministry
An example from church history is the first great awakening. Jonathan Edwards was a small town pastor who decided to focus his pastoral ministry on teenagers. He said, “God has cast off the old and stiff-necked generation and turned to the youth.” Edwards and his ministry were one of the main catalysts for the first great awakening! In 1904, the country of Wales was on a downward spiral spiritually. Another small town pastor, Joseph Jenkins decided to start holding a worship service for teenagers. A 13 year-old girl named Florrie Evans stood up in one of the meetings and said, “I just want everyone to know that I love Jesus Christ with all of my heart!” God began to move in spiritual awakening at that point and after one year one million people were converted to Christ in the country of Wales. We know this as the great Welsh Revival of 1904!
How is God working TODAY?
How is God working in student ministry today? Amidst all of the technological advances and stats that are saying young people are leaving the faith, the Holy Spirit is moving radically amongst this generation of students. Students are hungry for authenticity, love, and something to be a part of that is bigger than themselves. When the Gospel is presented and shown to them in love with passion, conviction, and authority they are responding by the hundreds and thousands. Not only are they responding to the message of the Gospel but they are responding to mentorship. They long for adults who love Jesus to get into their lives and show them what it means to authentically follow Jesus. They don’t care about what kind of stuff and programs you offer at your church, they want to hear the truth of the Gospel, know what the Bible teaches, and be a part of the mission of Jesus. They want to be challenged and given leadership. Yes, they can do more than drink energy drinks and play video games all day. Reaching students is the greatest evangelistic opportunity that we have in our world today. There are more teenagers in our world than any other age group and they are growing up without knowing The Gospel. The teenage years are some of the most vulnerable and foundational years of a person’s life. If you want to change the world and leave a legacy with the Gospel, start by investing your life and ministry in students. It’s heartbreaking to hear that organizations like ISIS are advancing their movement by recruiting and sending propaganda to students over the internet. Their main pitch is, “come and be a part of something bigger than yourself!” What if we as the body of Christ were as intense about reaching students by offering them the Gospel and our lives? In response to the recent riots on college campus’s many professed Christians have said, “what is wrong with the young generation?!” I believe that isn’t the question the Church should ask. The question we should ask is, “Where was the Church during the most impressionable and vulnerable years of their lives?” They could’ve been shaped by the Gospel because of Christ-centered adults and mentors but instead they are shaped by secular culture. Christ has given us the power and message to reach this generation but will we be obedient?
How should we respond after looking at Scripture, church history, and today?
- Don’t overlook the opportunity of ministering to students. Don’t see them as a stepping stone but an opportunity for God to do great work where you are at.
- Don’t underestimate students and student ministry. Students today want to be loved and challenged with the Gospel more than any other age group.
- Intercede for the students in your church and your student ministry leaders.
- Pick 3 or 4 students and pour the Gospel and your life into them.