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What is your #1 Team?

By | Leadership Development | No Comments

After a recent loss, a thirteen-year-old boy on my son’s soccer team said to me, “Well, I don’t feel like I lost.”

“Really?” I asked him. “How do you figure?”

He proudly announced, “Well, I’m a forward, and we forwards did our part by scoring three goals. It’s really the defense that lost the game because they gave up too many goals. They’re the losers.”

I kindly pointed out to him how absurd his reasoning was, not only because there is only one score for the team, but because every player on the field plays defense, though perhaps on different parts of the field. Even a forward plays a role in preventing the other team from scoring by making it difficult for the opponent’s defense to organize an attack.

To be fair, the kid smiled and acknowledged the ridiculousness of his original remark.

Story found in Patrick Lencioni’s book The Advantage

I know that historically this has been a problem for the teams I have been on. For example, in my church work previous to working with First Priority, we had a choir director and a praise band leader on staff with us. Each Tuesday morning during staff meeting, there was unspoken tension between the two. It didn’t come out verbally very often, but every once in a while when a major change was on the horizon, the subtle comments about whose service was better or larger or fill in the blank started to come out. I never realized that the church staff was my number one team rather than the youth team. I loved my student ministry volunteers and cared for them deeply. I thought that they were my number one priority. I knew that I didn’t want to be a part of the worship wars, so I stayed away. But had I realized that being on a united team with the staff rather than my youth team would have taken our church further, I would have put more time and energy into those relationships. Instead, the whole conversation irritated me.

This brings me to First Priority and the HOPE writing team. We are better together in the FP family! Having Joel, Phillip, Natalie, and now Haley and Steve Coleman on the HOPE writing team has increased the quality and the effectiveness of all of our clubs around the country! I would go as far as saying that even the clubs that do not use this year’s HOPE writing are affected in a positive way by it being there. I know that the HOPE writing is better because of the EPiC strategy being used this year in South Florida. Why? Because we glean from the South Florida team and use it in HOPE. What is my point? The First Priority family around the country is all of our number one team.

Patrick Lencioni says it like this: “The only way for a leader to establish this collective mentality on a team is by ensuring that all members place a higher priority on the team they’re a member of than the team they lead in their department.” (page 68)

For those of you working inside an FP chapter as a club’s Coach, Area Coordinator, Teacher Sponsor, Board Member, or other volunteer, would you see your place in the chapter as the team to have unity with? We can quickly get caught up in the ups and downs of a club, but by being on the larger team in your community, all clubs will rise together.

For those of you who are Directors and Coordinators of a FP Chapter, will you see First Priority in America as your number one team? If so, thank you!  So many of you do feel this way already, which is why the FP tide is rising!! We have several teams that are working on more than the HOPE strategy.  Scott Emerine is leading our marketing team. John Carruth is leading the team planning the 2020 FP fall conference. Shane Kenney is leading a think tank on writing a new four-week strategy. Joel Rowland is leading the HOPE writing for 2020-2021. Mark Robbins is putting together a team to rework our mission statement. There are a few people on the fund development team who work on strategies and training. 

By sharing your voice on one of these teams, you are being a part of the team that you are on rather than simply (not that it is simple) leading your chapter. I believe, no I KNOW, that your chapter will be better because you are sharing your voice in the collaborative efforts of First Priority. 

For those of you on a team already, thank you! For those of you who are not, would you consider it for the good of your chapter and for the First Priority family?

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

Why We Do First Priority

By | Local FP Communities, Student Leaders, Leadership Development | No Comments

We do First Priority because it changes lives. Lives of students like Abigail, who was trained to serve as a student leader for her First Priority club at her high school. The opportunity and lessons Abigail learned while serving as a leader, have helped her to follow God’s call in her life as she starts a new chapter and heads to college.

Here is Abigail’s story:

I was just getting serious about my faith when I first started high school and, I was really struggling when it came to being bold in my walk with Jesus, especially on my school campus. First Priority became a place where I felt safe to go and speak about my faith with other believers, invite unbelievers to hear about Jesus, and practice telling others about all God has done in my life.

This club has provided ample amounts of opportunity for me to pray over people who are struggling in their walk with Jesus and celebrate with those who experienced God’s grace for the first time! I have been able to experience all of these things because of your support, whether that be financially or prayerfully.Abigail

Once a month, we were able to provide pizza for our club, all thanks to your giving, which encouraged over two classrooms full of students to come and hear the great news of Jesus Christ, some for the first time. The impact you have had on C.E. Byrd High School has had incredible eternal value and, as a, now former, First Priority leader, I am incredibly grateful for the sacrifices you have made to help us win the lost for Jesus!

In Luke 10:2 Jesus tells us that “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” and then calls us to “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” You are living this out by supporting First Priority. You guys have given over and beyond which has allowed First Priority to give away the scholarship I have been honored to receive.

You are equipping students to share the gospel middle and high school campuses and then sending them off to do the same things on their college campuses through your giving.

As a four year member of First Priority and now a recipient of the First Priority Scholarship, I would like to personally thank you for the sacrifices you have made so that I can do all Jesus has called me to do. I will be eternally grateful for First Priority and all it’s equipped me to do.

Thank you!

Abigail

Summer Prayer Challenge- Week 7: FAITHFULNESS

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

The act of saying “yes” to Jesus causes the “fruit of the spirit” to come through us! The seventh fruit we are focusing on is FAITHFULNESS. Our God keeps His Promises which make our faith have meaning and our eternity secure. Practicing faithfulness takes effort and we as humans often fail. So first pray for it, then model and share God’s faithfulness to others!Faithfullness
Challenge: Because God is always faithful, let’s commit to being faithful in praying every day even when we don’t necessarily feel like it. Let’s ask God how we can show others His faithfulness this week.
Let’s also pray for the students who will be sharing about FAITHFULNESS in their schools during the month seven HOPE cycle.
// One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. – Luke 16:10 //

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 // 

 

Summer Prayer Challenge: Week 3 – PEACE

By | Local FP Communities, Student Leaders, Leadership Development | No Comments

The act of saying “yes” to Jesus causes the “fruit of the Spirit” to come through us! The third fruit we are focusing on is PEACE. Jesus brought peace into a world full of chaos, and He still desires to bring peace to hearts today. Trying to find our purpose and meaning in anything other than Jesus can lead to a life of worry and anxiety, because none of those things will ever give us a true sense of meaning and purpose.Peace copy

Challenge: Let’s pray that this week we would find our purpose in Jesus. In Matthew 28, Jesus gives His disciples their purpose. He tells them to go and make disciples. That command to make disciples still applies to us as Christians today!

Let’s also pray for the students who will be sharing about PEACE in their schools during the month three HOPE cycle.

// the Lord gives strength to His people, the Lord blesses His people with Peace – Psalm 29:11 //

Summer Prayer Challenge: Week 1 – LOVE

By | Local FP Communities, First Priority Of America, Leadership Development | No Comments

The act of saying “yes” to Jesus causes the “fruit of the Spirit” to come through us! And the first fruit we are focusing on is LOVE.Love Through Jesus we can love those around us even when we don’t want to.

Challenge: let’s pray that we would desire to grow in our own love for the Lord and that His love would shine through us and enable us to love others.

Let’s also pray for the students who will be sharing about LOVE in their schools during the month one HOPE cycle.

//“If I speak in the tongues of men or angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” – 1 Corinthians 13:1//

Grow Where God Has Planted You

By | First Priority Of America, Leadership Development | No Comments

Esther 4:14, New King James Version (NKJV)
14 “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Mordecai speaks truth to Esther and tells her she is there for a reason. If you are familiar with the story, you know that Esther had become Queen and Haman had plotted to have all the Jews killed. Mordecai gets wind of it and tells Esther if she does not act, it will be ruin for the Jews.

We have all been in a situation where we knew we were there for a reason. I believe God put each of us in certain places to accomplish His will and to be used by Him for such a time as this. I have found that everyday can be an adventure if we have the mindset of being in a place where we know God led us to.

I always hear of pastors that want to move on to somewhere else. They think the next church will be better, or, the change in staff and congregation will be more in alignment with them. GrowThe bottom line is this, grow where God has planted you. People are people and all of us have our hang-ups. Find YOUR place. You can still live the adventure. Stop trying to get to the greener grass on the other side of the fence. If you do that, you are missing the opportunity you have in front of you. If you think the grass you have under your feet is brown, and it’s better over there, water and fertilize where you stand and recognize you are there for such a time as this.

Living and Sharing the Gospel

By | Leadership Development | No Comments

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15

First Priority is a great topic! How do you share your faith outside of the FP conversation? Be intentional about conversations that can lead to hope and the God of Hope.

We should be different from the rest of the “world” (in a good way). God places us in the rarest of places to share our faith and to tell why we have hope. When we ask God to use us, we must be willing to share our faith (and sometimes about our sufferings) even when we are tired, or standing in line at the grocery store.

Every Christian needs to find a way to share their faith in everyday life. I believe God understands our personality types and He is sympathetic that we will not be “raging evangelists” all of the time in every circumstance. But, I also believe we are to be prepared to give an answer, or, a word for God, as often as we can. In a world that seems to have lost all hope, we have a hope. In a world that wants to politicize EVERYTHING, we have a reason for our HOPE.

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First Priority is the HOPE for students everywhere, and, Jesus is the HOPE for their parents and the school administrators. It is easy to tell people about hopeful things. What is the reason you have hope? You may firmly believe it is only because you know God is in control of your life and Jesus lives in your heart. But, how often do you have to give a reason for this hope? If you find you rarely have an opportunity to tell someone about the Lord, then ask God for opportunities to share about your hope and He will quickly provide them.

Our simple message is our hope through Christ. It’s not that complicated. Be a living lifestyle missionary this week.

Nancy and I are honored to serve with you,

Rick Forbus, PhD
President and CEO
First Priority of America