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How First Priority is pointing the way to Jesus

By | Priority Parents, Church Leaders, Faculty Sponsors | No Comments

In a lot of ways, First Priority is like John the Baptist. Matthew 3:3 says this about John the Baptist:

“For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”

Like John the Baptist, First Priority is pointing the way for the church to legally reach teenagers and influence the school with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Many people believe (falsely) that it is illegal to speak the name of Jesus in a public school. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The government of the United States cannot dictate religion, so when a student enters the halls of a school, they are not required to leave their faith at the door. They can share the gospel with their peers and with their teachers. But, many will not get up and share Christ alone. The first time is always the hardest and most intimidating. People do not want to do scary things on their own the first time. Friends help take the fear away. We must work to help gather students to create a space at school where they can share the gospel of Jesus Christ with their peers. Adults have a [legal] role to play! Teachers cannot preach to students, but they can open their room to the club. Over the last 11 years as a faculty sponsor for F.P., Sam saw more than 400 students receive Christ in his classroom. This was not because he was sharing the gospel, but because as a teacher, he opened the room to the First Priority club and watched students share Christ with their friends. Youth Pastors train and equip the [teenage] saints for works of service week-in and week-out at their church programs. First Priority gives students a place to implement prayer, evangelism, and come back to church for discipleship. Parents pray. I believe that. What if the parents prayed together? After all, what we are talking about is spiritual, not physical, mental, nor emotional. Let’s gather and open the heavens for God’s work to go forward at your child’s school. And let’s not forget the leaders in the community. Whether you lead in business, government, or non-profit, you are a valuable piece of the First Priority puzzle. You create longevity and structure for ministry to happen not just at one or three schools, but in every middle and high school in your community.

Long story short, the Good News found in Jesus Christ is shared at public middle and high schools every day that they are open. Students reach students at school. There were 10,022 students who began their walk with Jesus in their school building in the 2017-2018 school year. Is that happening in your local school(s)? If not, will you play your role and help make it happen where you live?

Until all have heard in our country,

Brad

3 Tips to understanding student-led Jesus meetings in public schools

By | FP Tools | No Comments

How can we share Jesus in the school when there is no prayer allowed? Simple: It’s the law! The Equal Access Act became law in 1984 and was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1990. There are 3 major components of the law:

  1. Nondiscrimination: if a public secondary (middle/high) school allows non-curriculum, student-led meetings, then the school must treat all meetings equally – even Christian ones.
  2. Student-initiated, student-led meetings: In order for the meetings to be deemed lawful at a public middle or high school, meetings must be student-initiated and student-led.
  3. Local control: the act does not limit authority of the school leadership to maintain control.

The following are the some of the guidelines set out by the Equal Access Act:

  • Federally funded, secondary schools must allow students the right to hold meetings if the campus has a limited open forum policy (more than one student meeting is allowed)
  • The meetings are voluntary and student-initiated
  • There is no sponsorship of the club by the school or government
  • Employees of the school are only present at religious meetings in a non-participatory capacity
  • The meeting does not interfere with orderly conduct or educational activities within the school
  • Non-school persons may not direct, conduct, control or regularly attend activities of student groups

Definition of terms:

  • The term “meeting” refers to student groups and activities permitted in the limited open forum and are not directly related to school curriculum
  • The term “sponsorship” refers to school employee assigned to meetings for the purpose of providing custodial provision
  • The terms “non-instructional time  refer to time set aside by the school before actual classroom instruction begins and ends
  • The terms “student-initiated” refer to students seeking permission to meet; and to directing and controlling the meetings

Important points to consider:

  • The school’s authority has the right to establish the regulations for if, when and where the meetings will occur; the key is nondiscrimination
  • Schools may allow students to promote meetings through school media if other meetings are being promoted
  • Outsiders may attend meetings if invited by students and approved by the school authority; the school authority has the right to limit or deny access of outsiders; outsiders are not permitted to proselytize students who are not voluntarily attending the student meeting

For more information on the Equal Access Act, please visit: http://www.freedomforuminstitute.org/publications/first/findingcommonground/B09.StudentClubs.pdf

This flyer was created for First Priority of Tampa Bay; information is provided by Freedomforum.org

Check out what is happening in Bristol, TN

By | Local FP Communities | No Comments

Scott Emerine Bristol Area Director was invited to speak today at Vance Middle School. Students will be altering the HOPE cycle to have Engage weeks to finish out the year and they will be sharing the Gospel using their testimony worksheets and the First Priority Blue Ridge provided Bibles from First Priority of America. We are extremely proud of how innovative and creative students are and how churches are partnering with the student missionaries to empower them.

Open up spiritual eyes

By | Nehemiah | No Comments

1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” I hear a lot of people say the Bible never really made sense to them until they gave their lives to Christ. Well, there you go.

If you have ever been around non-believers and they think you’re crazy, welcome to the party. God has changed your heart because you heard the gospel and the Holy Spirit of God convicted you. Then, a real conversion happened in you. Your mind became re-wired to hear the Holy Spirit. You also were given a new heart. You and I were influenced by somebody, but make no mistake, we play only a small role in the salvation department of God. However, it is a huge part of God’s plan. Our job is to love God and love people. I pray today that you will play your part. Pray for those around you. Ask God to give you the opportunity to partner with Him to influence the lives of people so that they too may understand the Spirit of God.

We are aliens of this world, strangers passing through. Our great goal is to take as many people with us on our way to our real home.

Pray God opens the spiritual eyes of those around you, and be ready to help guide them through that process.

Keep Fishing,

Mark Roberts

The primary way to start doing ministry in a public school

By | Priority Parents, Church Leaders, Community Leaders | No Comments

The answer? Think Long Term.

Period. I really could stop there and say nothing else. If you follow that way of thinking, you will be where you want to be. But really think about it for a moment. Who has access to all the places in town? The individual who everybody knows and loves. Who does everybody know and love? The person who has been around for a long time and goes above and beyond the call of duty.

Which leads to point number 2: Think long term.

Again? Really?! Yup!? NO SINGLE EVENT WILL LEAD TO REVIVAL! Even the ministry of Billy Graham got started in a tent revival in California that lasted for weeks. Do not form a committee that does a bait and switch school assembly where someone feels ‘inspired’ to share the Gospel even though you said you wouldn’t. Yes, maybe 60 students did come to faith through the event. They are thankful. But they also have not been followed up with to get plugged into a local church (cause that never happens to its capacity). And God does not tell you to do something that is illegal or undermining. Never has. Never will.

Which leads to point number 3: Think long term.

Paint a wall or some lockers at the school. Organize a group of adults or community churches to do a workday. And if you’ve been around so long the paint you put on cracks, paint it again. Clean garbage out of the stands after a ball game. Don’t ask, just bring some trash bags with you to the game and get started. It’ll make the custodians night/weekend if you do.  Show up at a summer football practice with popsicles for the team. They could use a little sugar kick and flavor.

The long and short of it all: It is not about you. It is about God’s love for the students walking the halls of your school. Start with a servants heart and end with a servants heart. Bring Chick-Fil-A to the secretary the first day you walk in so it won’t be the last.

Greg Stier, President of Dare to Share, explains how to share the Gospel

By | FP Tools | No Comments

Check out our good friend Greg Stier, President of Dare to Share, as he explains how to share the Gospel. Train your students in a First Priority Club and watch God move on that campus.

At Dare 2 Share, we train teens how to share their faith because a lot of teens and adults know how to bring up the gospel but don’t always know how to share the gospel. Sometimes the gospel is hindered because of fear or uncertainty. It is our goal at Dare 2 Share to help every teen and youth leader feel comfortable to fearlessly share the gospel with their friends, family, students and peers.

Learn how to share the gospel with a practical, 4-minute crash course training by Greg Stier and a set of resources designed to help activate a bold and daring faith!

How Layton uses her time in school as a role model

By | Local FP Communities, Student Leaders | No Comments

In this video, Layton, a student in NC, shares her story of how she has become a role model in her school by making a public profession of faith in Christ through baptism. It has made her a role model where she gets the opportunity to be asked questions about God in school.

This video is from FP Greater Clayton
Joel Rowland, Director
http://www.fpgreaterclayton.com/

The Call of God on your Life

By | Nehemiah | No Comments

The walls and gates of Jerusalem had been torn down for over seventy years. During those seventy years, there were probably hundreds, maybe even thousands of people who thought to themselves or said to a friend, “We need to fix these walls.”

How many times has it been said in our country that, “We need to reach these schools?” Everyone in the church would agree with the statement and might even go so far as to try to do something about it. However, they get busy with all of their other obligations and it becomes just another great idea. Many churches are doing good things, but nobody is organizing them all to share the hope of Christ with every student. Like in Nehemiah’s example, if there is not a person waking up every day to organize the work, it will not happen.

When Nehemiah inquired about the Jewish remnant and the conditions of the city and was told of the situation, he was moved to tears. Nehemiah 1:4, “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.”

The difference between all of the thousands who had seen the condition of the walls and Nehemiah was that Nehemiah was burdened. He was burdened to the point that he spent days fasting and praying to God. If you are burdened, fast and pray.

We tell others who are thinking about starting First Priority in their community to pray, familiarize themselves with First Priority, and with the conditions of their community. If they can’t sleep, then it is a good indication that God is calling them to do something about it! We like to call it the “sleep test.”

The call of God to unite your community and reach students is very important. This is no easy task! If it were easy, someone else would have already done it. There will be very hard times and a lot of frustrating moments, but the call God places on your life is what will keep you keeping on.

Mark Roberts
Associate Director
First Priority of America