While I’ve been involved in several FCA’s, First Priority’s, and many other school groups, I’ve always racked my brain on the best way to do them. What’s the most biblical? What is their ultimate purpose? By no means am I saying that I think I have the only way whatsoever! I’m just saying that this is the way God has led me to do it, it makes the most sense to me, and its the most effective.
1. The purpose of these school groups are ultimately for the GOSPEL! I personally don’t think its the best idea to just have another Bible study for these teens early on whatever morning during the week, to give them a few helpful hints for their Christian lives, and to send them on their way for the day. They should be having their own Bible study at home, and also hearing multiple Bible lessons each week at church! These students are entering into a wicked gauntlet of worldliness called the halls of high school. They are going through more than we ever did and could ever imagine. They don’t need helpful hints…they need to hear the power of Jesus through the gospel WITHIN them and done THROUGH them! I’ve been in several school groups with 100+ teens who show up early to hear what the speaker has to say…AND NOTHING IS SAID ABOUT JESUS?! Why are we wasting our time and theirs with giving them religious crap? Give them Jesus! Give them the gospel! Put it into action for them! Remind them the power that’s within them!
2. The audience of these school groups are ultimately CHRISTIANS! I understand that there are exceptions to these, but after being to dozens of different spiritual school groups, I rarely see self-proclaimed unbelievers there. Its really hard to bribe a non-Christian into coming early to school to hear someone speak for several minutes…all for a donut. So I believe our best time spent is to get the Christians of the school together and communicate the gospel to them.
3. The message of these school groups is ultimately EVANGELISM! I absolutely love for every week to come at it from a different angle, but my message is the same. I want to encourage, empower, and equip these students to trust, live, and show the gospel throughout that specific day. So from different passages of Scripture, I try to do everything I can to convince them of the power of Jesus within them and the glory of the gospel working through them. I want them to know that they can have a presence of Jesus in their school. I want them to know that they can live missionally by just doing life with other students. I want them to know that they can put their guard down and tell their non-Christian friends how they themselves are a screw-up, a mess-up, and that Jesus is the only perfect Person ever. I heard a youth pastor once tell a school group that they needed to lose their non-Christian friends. WHAT?! I about lost my mind! We aren’t just dodging and slaloming through the world while we live, but we are planting of lives within the lives of the world to share and show Jesus!
4. The incentive of these school groups can be FOOD! I do think its important to feed the students. I think its huge to show them that you care about their physical needs as well as their spiritual needs. That starts a trend within them to think about serving the physical needs of their friends to open a door to their spiritual needs as well. Jesus constantly did meals with his disciples. Paul continuously ate with his churches. God just does something special over food. While its nearly impossible to bribe a non-believer with a donut, we can feed and encourage the Christian students in the gospel. I know for me, I don’t have time to go get donuts and orange juice because I’m so busy with other things. But my church can afford them. We have an amazing lady in our school group whose church can’t afford them but she’s great at getting them. So find someone to team up with and make the food happen!
5. The concluding thoughts about these school groups. I have to say it one more time, I have tons of buddies who are all doing these school groups in different ways. I’m not tell you at all that you’re not doing your school group right. This is written for those who may be at a loss, who may be getting one started, and who may have tried everything else. This is just works for us. Listen, don’t go after the numbers. Seriously, I’ve seen every stunt pulled to bring in numbers of students and to record numbers of salvations. I’ve heard gospel-less, Jesus-less messages preached with tons of teens who raise their hands saying they prayed some ridiculous prayer. Be straight up about Jesus. Be straight up about the gospel. Don’t measure your group’s success by the numbers. Do everything you can to commission your teens as missionaries each week and send them into their mission field to live missionally with the gospel of Jesus!
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