Becoming an Insider

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“Local youth workers are finding other creative ways to be visible on campus. They are volunteering with a purpose… providing hallway supervision, or working at school activities such as field trips or the annual college fair.” Marshall Snider, Network City Coordinator – Dallas, Oregon

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John 1:14 (NIV)

Rather than shouting His message of hope from a distance, Jesus modeled “incarnational” ministry. He came and “pitched His tent” among us. We can and must do the same thing among students within the school environment if we are going to impact them for Christ.

HOW TO BEGIN

  • Build the Foundation for a Bridge

    To penetrate a campus community, prayer must be the foundation of our approach. Through prayer and observation, we can gain insights about a specific school and discern ways He is already working there. Ask Him to send other workers along with you into that specific field of harvest. Pray for a good personal connection with a school staff person who is already an insider on the campus.
  • Build the Bridge: Know the School

    Knowing a school’s culture and unique student groups is invaluable for maximum impact. Start by interviewing students from your own ministry. Read the school newspaper and annual yearbook as well as the local section of your community newspaper. Go to sporting events. Start by getting to know school administration and other school gatekeepers. Meet the principal and other school leaders informally at events, games, etc. Ask parents to introduce you.
  • Cross the Bridge: Begin with Relationships.

    Campus Alliance does not have a political agenda. The goals are eternal and spiritual in nature. Long-term spiritual fruitfulness will grow out of trust built with school authorities far more than stirring conflict or public confrontation. Start by getting to know school administration and other school gatekeepers. Meet the principal and other school leaders informally at events, games, etc. Ask parents to introduce you. Write a note of encouragement. When appropriate, seek to have a formal appointment. Keep it brief. Communicate your availability to assist with their needs.
  • Keep the Bridge Open: Serve the School

    Find a point of need where your interest, effort or experience is needed. You or your local ministry may have the expertise, a facility or the equipment that your school cannot afford but needs. Each school is different, but you might consider coaching, tutoring, using your technical/video/photography skills, support help, and chaperoning of events. The list goes on. Prayerfully brainstorm with other youth leaders and concerned adults about how the body of Christ can serve the schools.
  • Widen the Bridge: Personal Contact with Student Groups

    As you serve within the school, students will begin to recognize you as an insider. Identify what sports team, music group or student subgroup you are running into most regularly. Learn from the example of Jesus in John 4. as He encountered the woman at the well. Show interest by asking good questions and listening well. Pick up on students’ needs and offer hope. By asking the “5 Ws” (who, what, where, when, and why questions), you can talk to almost any student for 10 minutes or more.
  • Mobilize Other Adult Leaders

    You cannot penetrate every student group by yourself. Recruit and link with other Christian adult youth leaders to find at least one way that they can penetrate the campus as well. Even on a very busy and limited schedule, being at the right place at the right time will open doors for ministry. Try athletic events, evening activities, and other carefully selected opportunities.
  • Equip and Motivate Your Students

    You might picture yourself and other adult leaders as the point of a spear going to the campus, and students like the shaft. As you set the pace, model compassion, meet needs, and share the gospel, students will have an example they can follow. Help them shape their own personal plan for evangelism among their friends and others on their campus.

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PLEASE NOTE

  • If you are a student, do yourself a favor and get an adult to take on this responsibility! In most cases, they will enjoy it and have more success. But even if you are able to delegate this aspect of your ministry you need to read this and understand how valuable adults are to reaching your school.
  • If you are an adult, prayerfully proceed!

PARENTS

It is important to understand that in every community a group of adults exists who care enough about their young people to get involved in the solutions to their greatest needs. In most communities, parents are your greatest allies and potential resources. For just a moment, imagine what parents are facing when their sons and daughters are approaching adulthood. They are doing the best they can in raising their children. They are looking for significant others to take an interest in their kids. Most parents of students today feel disconnected with how their son or daughter is really doing. When meeting parents you need to let them know, without apology, what you and your ministry are all about. The most important principle in working with parents is being confident. Remember names of other involved parents and community people as you meet new parents. One name dropped at the right time is worth a thousand attempts at describing what you do. When a parent has shown an interest in getting involved, give them something to do as soon as possible. And remember to pray for the parents!

TEACHERS AND OTHER FACULTY

Christian teachers, coaches and administrators can be a tremendous resource in trying to reach a campus with the gospel,especially if they are well liked and respected among the students and faculty. Many entered the field of teaching because they wanted to make an impact on the lives of young people. So, with the “perceived”legal limitations, what can they do?

  • They can be involved in prayer,individual and
  • They can be “salt and light” in the classroom. They are within their legal rights by having and defending a biblical worldview. They can be an official advisor for your outreach if you decide to make it an officially recognized school club. They can open their classroom up for students to have prayer meetings.

Here are some ideas for mobilizing teachers to be part of ministry to teenagers.

  • Participate In Education Sunday

    This commissioning service for students and school staff would be a great way to help the teachers and students see that they are Christ’s ambassadors to their campus, to help them realize they are on the same team, and to help the church to see how critical the public schools are in God’s plan.

  • School Staff Prayer Breakfasts

    Organizing prayer breakfasts for school staff is another way to encourage the churches, students, and mom’s prayer groups to support the teachers in the school and to also encourage them to become involved in helping to reach the school for Christ.

  • See You At The Pole

    Encourage them to take part in it. It typically happens the third Wednesday in September.

  • Encourage Christian Faculty To Join CEAI

    Christian Educators Association International (CEAI) is an organization which provides a subscription to Teachers In Focus magazine, encouraging literature on being a witness in your school, and insurance comparable to NEA, with a philosophy that supports their Christian stand. (www.ceai.org; phone 1-888-798-1124)

  • Utilize Key Times for Students To Encourage Teachers

    Great opportunities for showing appreciation to teachers include:

    • Thanksgiving
    • Christmas
    • Valentine’s Day
    • Easter
    • National Teacher Day (usually about May 7)Graduation (invite teachers to Baccalaureate)
  • Encourage Seniors to Witness To Their Teachers Before They Graduate

    The greatest need among educators is for appreciation, so encouraging cards sent to teachers (Christian and non-Christian) will go a long way in opening them up to Christ.

  • Help Inform Teachers and School Staff of Their Legal Rights

    Many school faculty have been intimidated into believing that they have no rights at all as Christians. Let them know that they do NOT have to check their faith at the schoolhouse door. A good resource for them is “Bible Clubs and Student Religious Meetings in Public Schools,” available in the Resource section of the 1x1x56k magazine.