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Church Leaders

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

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.

5 Ways to serve your school!

By Church Leaders, FP Tools No Comments

School Ministry needs to be a well-rounded strategy, not just a box to check off each week. Not only do we need to be ministering to the students, but we need to be ministering to teachers, staff, administrators, and parents. In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus lays out the Great Commission in this way,

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We need to look at the Great Commission in a way that we normally do not. We need to find the different “nations” on our school campus and strategize ways to reach each one. Below are a few different ideas to reach local schools for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  1. Become a School Chaplin- Sports Teams, District Ceremonies, Praying over a Banquet.
  2. Principal Q&A- Bring the Principals to your church and interview them on
    stage to discover school needs. 
  3. Lunch Duty- Give the teachers a break during lunch, and cover cafeteria duty for them.
  4. Service Projects- Spend your free time serving at your local school, invest in areas that they are limited by time and resources to address.
  5. School Year Kickoff- Have a time where you do something special for the school to launch
    the school year. It can be as simple as walking the halls of the school, taking time to pray over each room. 

The big theme here is to serve the school. You can never go wrong by serving.

God Bless,

Cameron Crow
Area Coordinator
First Priority Premium Basin, TX

PRAYING FOR OUR STUDENTS AS MISSIONARIES TO THEIR SCHOOL

By Church Leaders, FP Tools No Comments

We pray for missionaries all over the world; why not pray for our students? A majority of all who believe in Christ as Savior believe before the age of 18. That makes our middle and high schools the largest mission fields in our country. Our Christian students in our churches are therefore the link, the missionary force if you will, that God will use to see spiritual awakening in the lives of non-believing students. The greatest influence on students today is their peers. Is there a better time in history to see students as missionaries to the teen culture and send them to school to be light in their culture?

HOW IT WORKS

1. Start in your church: Expand to other churches as the opportunity arises. Contact the pastor, the youth pastor, or the churches in your area. Explain the idea of having their students commissioned in their church as a missionary to the school. Offer to make missionary cards printed for the church to have on hand during the commissioning event. Be sure parents/guardians are aware that the students picture is being taken and will be distributed to fellow church members.

2. Hold a commissioning service or commissioning moment in a church service. After each participating student missionary has their cards printed, commission them in a church service. This could be done as easily as having the students come to the front of the church or youth service and having parents and elders pray over them as they seek to be used by God at their school.

3. Have the pastor encourage the congregation to take a student’s photo missionary card, put it on their refrigerator, and pray for that student missionary throughout the school year.

4. Church members grab a card and sponsor a student. Lay the printed missionary cards on tables where adults who are willing to pray can pick them up after the service. Having multiple cards printed for each student is okay. Why not have 5 people praying for the same student? Make sure you get contact cards on all adults praying and add them to your prayer database.

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Christian adults can’t share Jesus at a public school, but Students can!

By Student Leaders, Church Leaders, Leadership Development No Comments
You know this! I have nothing new to tell you. But it is an excellent reminder that our job as youth pastors, leaders, ministers, etc. is to equip the saints. Check out Eph. 4:11-12:

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

As you also well know, the most significant influence on a student is another student. Students reach students. I am convinced that if we as adult leaders teach, show, and give students simple tools to share their faith, they will. I have seen it time and time again, whether it is the Roman road to salvation, the GOSPEL bracelets or whatever tool you choose, that if you teach it, model it, and give students the opportunity to practice it with other students, they will take it and run with it. This generation of students is not afraid to talk about their faith, as a matter of fact, they want too. It is our job to help them do that. It is our job also to help give them a place to practice what we have taught them. Can you think of a better place to try out their new gospel knowledge than at school with their peers?

This is where we can help. You need an outreach strategy for the public schools, you need a way in, and you are tired of the school dictating culture. You can be a catalyst for change in the schools in your area. We can help guide you to organize and train student leaders to start a First Priority club on the campus that will pay spiritual dividends for years to come. The simple training you did with students, just might be the spark that gets a spiritual fire started (sorry I was having a flashback to camp). Ok anyway, you and I are called by God to be equippers of the saints. Let’s be an influencer of culture and pray for revival.

Keep fishing,

Mark

The Perfect Job

By Nehemiah, First Priority Of America, Church Leaders No Comments

You got into student ministry because you loved students and you wanted to make a difference in their lives. Thoughts of making disciples who you could build into student leaders were at the top of your priority list. If you are anything like me, you thought this was going to be the most awesome job ever! Wow! Hanging out with teenagers, leading them to follow Christ, meeting their friends and having this huge influence on them. Then reality set in. The parents of my students are demanding. The pastor thinks I have a lot of time on my hands, so he gives me every junk job there is.

When I was at my first church, I loved my pastor. He was so good to me. But some of the deacons thought we could save a few bucks by getting rid of the lawn guy and making me mow; because I made the big bucks as you know. The problem was, it was not just mowing a lawn. There was a big cemetery behind the church. Every week this had to be kept up. Because if there is ever something that needed to look nice, it was the grave sites of so many of our church members deceased families. You think I got a hard time about some of the activities our students did? Ha, nope! That was nothing compared to not mowing uncle Jesse’s grave site correctly…

Well, I soon found out that what I had imagined as the perfect job was not. I mean, there were times that it was awesome and God did great things, but man did I have to jump through hoops to get just a few wins. It seemed like every time God was up to something, Satan was there to put a wrench in it. I know now that is exactly how Satan works. His M.O. is to divide, get Christians to argue and to fuss and fight about stupid things. He keeps us busy with things that are temporal. He tells our students they are not good enough to be followers of Christ. We fight the culture, the emphasis on academics, sports teams, colleges applications and requirements to get in. It’s all overwhelming. Our student ministry becomes just another set of activities and programs. We feel like we are unproductive and spinning our wheels. Instead of making disciples of Christ and raising up student leaders, we start defining success by how many students we had at our last event.

Be alert and of sound mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

When we know the devil’s M.O. we can be alert and watch for the things that trip us up. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and your feet always bringing the gospel of peace.

“How beautiful are the feet of those who [b]preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:15

#gamechanger

By Local FP Communities, Church Leaders, Community Leaders No Comments

I don’t mean to start with the obvious or to be too simple, but the way we think affects the way that we see the world and ultimately how we act each and every day. So, we begin here.

  • We hear people say that culture is ‘so bad’, and we agree with that sentiment. But let’s look at it as an opportunity. The pendulum of our culture always swings from spiritual depravity to spiritual awaking. If you have studied revivals in the past, we are due to see one happen. What an opportunity we have to be a catalyst of this next revival!
  • There are more students who identify themselves as Christians than identify with any other group in the school building on any given day. At least we think so. There is not a poll that has been taken on this. Especially since there are so many privacy laws in place around minors and around the school system today. But, we feel that many still would check that box should they get the multiple choice. Maybe 25% of the students would feel this way? Unless you are a part of a small rural school with 100 students total and the band has 26 of those students in it. Then there would be more band members. That said, in a small rural school, there is a greater chance of there being upwards of 80% of the students who call themselves Christian with some 71% of U.S. adults considering themselves Christian in 2019.

Either way, we are convinced that one of the largest groups on school campuses are Christian students. The problem is they are not organized. The school system helps organize the football team. They buy equipment, hire coaches and give the players a place to practice and play. The same is true with the band and other sanctioned organizations on campus. What if we organized the Christian students? Would that not be a game changer? Would that not change student ministry in your community? Would that be worth asking God to use you to help organize and unite the body of Christ in the middle and high schools of your community?

Why say all this? Cause there are more Christians for your students to partner with at school than just those that go to your student ministry. Think about the implications of a united Christian student-led movement at school.

Which naturally leads to thinking about the bigger picture in your community.  What would happen if the student ministry leaders in your community knew each other, trusted each other, and worked together at school for the common ground of building the Kingdom of Christ.
#gamechanger

Your Story

By Priority Parents, Student Leaders, Church Leaders, Faculty Sponsors, Community Leaders No Comments

Have you ever thought about the role that stories play in your everyday life? Stories help us understand things that other forms of communication cannot. Stories sometimes become the way we understand ourselves and the world around us. Did you go to a theater to see any
movies this summer? Obviously, the movie was itself a story, but what other stories were involved in your decision to go and pay money to see that movie? Did you see an advertisement for the movie? That’s a story. Did you go with friends? A personal story probably determined which friends you went with. Did you buy snacks to enjoy during the movie? A story had to be displayed to help you understand that this entertainment experience would be right for you. Some stories are not as obvious as others, but stories generally do four things:

  • Stories make a point
  • Stories make the point memorable
  • Stories make the point meaningful
  • Stories create connections

Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 11.39.17 AMMany of us think that we have nothing worth sharing. Maybe you think your testimony is nowhere near as powerful as someone else’s. If you follow Jesus, however, you must realize that the true power of your story is in the Gospel, not in your own achievements. No matter what our experience appears to look like on the surface, the truth is that we were lost and now we are found! We were in darkness but now we walk in the light! Once we were alone and without hope, and yet Jesus has brought us into His family!

So I want to encourage you to share your story. You never know how it might help spread the gospel to those who hear the message.

Campus Coach Spotlight: Casey from FP Great Plains

By Local FP Communities, Church Leaders, Community Leaders No Comments

First Priority clubs are a great way for youth pastors to be able to step into the lives of their students on campus and meet them in a place where they spend most of their time. Being a campus coach provides this opportunity, and not only does it help youth pastors connect with their students, it helps churches unite locally. Listen to Casey, a youth pastor from the FP Great Plains community talk about her role as both a youth pastor and campus coach for the FP club she is involved with.

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Summer Prayer Challenge: Week 6 – GOODNESS

By Local FP Communities, First Priority Of America, Church Leaders, FP Tools, Leadership Development, Community Leaders No Comments

The act of saying “yes” to Jesus causes the “fruit of the Spirit” to come through us! The sixth fruit we are focusing on is GOODNESS. In the same way that the Goodness of God moves Him to act, the Goodness He imparts to us is what causes us to be world changers. Goodness is a heart change that occurs when we put Jesus in charge of our life.Goodness
Challenge: let’s pray that this week we wouldn’t just strive to “do the right things” but that we would seek Jesus deeper so that our hearts and minds will be transformed to imitate Jesus.
Let’s also pray for the students who will be sharing about GOODNESS in their schools during the month six HOPE cycle.

// For we are God’s Masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago – Ephesians 2:10 //