F to the W to the O

We believe that God is For, With, and One Of people.  In a previous post on here, Mission Vision, we touched on how there needs to be 2 mission statements within missional student ministry – one for the leaders and one for the students and that has to do directly with this idea of For, With, and One Of.

Let me break down the idea of God being For, With, and One Of  people:

  • First of all, God is For People.  God created humans in his image (Gen. 1) and God said after creation that all was good.  He is For people.  He loves his creation – people.
  • Now, in the Old Testament we get examples of where God is With people as well.  All through the second chapter of Genesis God talks with Adam and Eve, He wrestles with Jacob (Gen. 32), He appears before Moses in a burning bush (Exod. 3), He walks and talks with the prophets, and the list goes on.  God is With people.
  • In the New Testament, God changes up history forever by sending Christ on earth.  God, up to this point, has been For people and With people, but now, through sending Christ, God became One Of us!  By sending Christ, God “moved into the neighborhood” (The Message) and became One Of us.  Therefore, God is For us, God is With us, and through Christ, has become One Of us.

Let me lay this out for a missional student ministry:

As leaders, we are For students.  We love students and we want students to thrive in their journey with Christ.  As leaders, we are also With students.  We talk with them, we open our lives up to them, we hang with them, etc.  But here’s the kicker – WE CANNOT FULLY BE “ONE OF” THE STUDENTS!  It’s just not possible.  We are no longer students.  This is why it is so important for us, as leaders, to be extremely relational with students and to disciple them.

Even though we cannot be One Of the students….guess what?…the students ARE One Of their peers and other students around them.  This is why we need to equip students to GO to other students around them and make disciples.  If our students are For other students, With other students, and One Of other students, then we can equip them to go love other students in Christ’s name.  Students can reach and connect with other students in a way that we, as leaders, simply can’t because we are not One Of the students.

When this takes place within your student ministry – it changes everything!  It has to!  Disciples are being made.

Mission Impossible?

In the last couple posts we have discussed the importance of mission and vision within missional student ministry, as well as, the importance of gaining your mission from a passion closely connected with what God is calling you to do.  And as you discern your mission and vision for the student ministry it is important, especially in a missional student ministry, to lead your students on their own mission.

It’s amazing, but not surprising, that in the last three weeks I have had four different conversations with students (not all of whom are connected with our ministry) that flat out told me they are bored.  How can they possibly be bored????  They have a PS3, they have a smartphone, their families are well off, there’s a Starbucks down the road, they have flatscreen TV’s with plenty of channels to select from, they have tons of friends – not including all the extra “friends” on Facebook, they have access to anything and everything via technology.  Bored?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized each of those things that are supposed to keep them from getting bored (PS3, smartphones, TV, etc.) lack something.  They lack purpose.  They lack substance.  They lack mission.

I don’t think it’s any secret that each of us, as humans, want, and even need, purpose in our life.  We want our life to matter and count for something.  We need purpose.  We need substance behind what we do.  We need mission.

I think because students are students we (culturally) often times don’t expect a lot out of them and they are aware that not a lot is expected out of them.  This bores them.  This robs them of the mission that God calls them to.

As leaders and disciple-makers (Matthew 28:19), it is important for us to help students discover their mission right where they are at in life.  We need to equip them, encourage them, and challenge them in their mission.  And for most students, their mission is to those that are around them in life – those students at their school, in band, in a sport they play, at the locker next to them, sitting next to them in class.  This is their missional context.

One of the things we do to help students in this is that we frequently ask students in both NRG (our middle school ministry) and high school GoCos (missional communities), to write down 2-3 students that they are consistently praying for in their school.  In smaller group discussions, we often will ask them how they are practically loving and serving those students, and then we hold them to an account for it.  It’s a fine balance of encouragement (letting them know they can do this and are called to do this) and challenge (checking in to make sure they are actually doing it).  And this is just one of many options that you can do (and that we have done) to help students in their mission

So I think it’s important that we let students know that God has called them.  That God has a purpose for them.  That God gives them a mission.  And they don’t have to wait until they are out of college, married, have a job, and three kids before their life purpose begins. This mission is not impossible.

The Road to Nowhere

Lets be honest student ministry does not have a glorious history of strong vision and mission. For the longest time student ministry was just a place for parents to send their kids for some cheap babysitting with the hope that they would grow into adults with strong moral character.  Ministry leaders were taking students on a road to nowhere.

This reminds me of one of my favorite scenes from Alice in Wonderland…Alice comes to a fork in the road and has this conversation with the Cheshire Cat.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

I love this scene.  It points out how critical it is to know where we are headed. How can we choose which direction to go when we do not know where God is leading us? Which raises a great question; “where is He leading you?”.  The question is not “where are parents leading you?” or “where is your job description leading you?” or “where is your committee leading you?”. Vision starts with you and Jesus.

My challenge would be this: Get on your face and ask God where he wants you to GO. I don’t mean go to another church or ministry. I mean what group of students or people does Jesus want you to GO to?  It could be as general as middle school or as specific as skaters. Perhaps it is students who have been abused in some way. Honestly it could be any group.  So get on your face and specifically ask Him to show you your own heart. What passions has he put inside of you? ….And then Go For It!  Stop settling for “somewhere” as a destination.  Trust that Jesus will speak to you and that the Holy Spirit will guide you.