Our mission statement for our student ministry is short: Teaching, Developing, Engaging. It sums up in essence everything we try to do to impact students, their families, their schools and our community. Behind this mission statement are the four core values that are the foundation of our student ministry: Gospel-centered relationships, leadership development, missions involvement and comprehensive Bible teaching.
Teaching is rooted in two concepts:
1) that God’s Word is sufficient to inform and shape every aspect of our lives (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and;
2) the primary task of ministry is the preaching/teaching of the Bible (1 Timothy 4:13).
Because Scripture is sufficient and it is imperative to teach the Bible, we make these concepts the primary focus of our student ministry. We devote our Wednesday nights to the systematic study of books of the Bible. Currently, we’re going through the major themes of Genesis. We also spend time studying and applying Scripture in small groups, and we use a great Sunday School curriculum.
We do not spend so much time reading, hearing, seeing, studying, preaching and applying Scripture so that we know more about the Bible — that’s knowledge that “puffs up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). Instead, we do that so that we can store the Word in our hearts to know God more and live more effectively for Him (Psalm 119:11). I teach regularly, but our college student intern and adult volunteers also teach to provide different perspectives to our students.
We also have our students teach. I want them to teach because they learn the discipline to prepare as they mine the Word and feed themselves spiritually. That’s the end goal: to teach the Bible so that when our students graduate they can handle the Word themselves and grow from it.
The second part of our mission statement, Developing, finds its biblical foundation in 2 Timothy 2:2, which describes the cycle of raising up leaders in the church to carry on the work of ministry. Leaders are tasked to find others who would be great potential leaders and invest in them.
In our student ministry, we are always looking for students who show potential to be leaders, because those students will be the influencers who can help shape and raise up the younger middle students. Group games are a way to identify potential leaders. I discovered a couple of unexpected potential leaders by giving all our students a number on a card and putting it on their foreheads. They had to line up without speaking in the right order. I watched one of our newer students take charge and be very involved in the process. He is now on my radar to be a key leader. But beyond identifying those who have leadership gifts, our aim is to develop all of our students to be influencers, even if they are not leaders.
Engaging, the final aspect of our mission, is accomplished by sending our students on missions. Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8 provide the where and the how of missions. Our approach is that we seek to go on missions to serve both our neighbors and the nations. It is every Christian’s task, and the church’s commission, to take the Gospel to those who have not yet heard.
On a practical level, our student ministry takes frequent mission trips in our region, serves in local ministry sites in our community and sends students on international trips. Missions is the culmination of biblical teaching and leadership development: students are equipped to go into their schools, their teams and their clubs and to be “salt and light” for their friends (Matthew 5: 13-16). For us, “engaging” is not about our students simply inviting their friends, it is about living on mission everyday.