In the First Priority world, we talk a lot about unity in the body of Christ. We quote John 17 often, and speak of local churches coming together to influence the schools for Christ. Well, why not para church ministries too. First Priority, FCA, Young life, Youth for Christ, and Youth Alive are all trying to reach students, why can’t we work together? Check out this 3 minute video that talks about working together to reach students.
As promised in our email last week, attached is our free Story Training Certification Guide. What is that? It is a simple outline to help your students learn to share their story in a very clear and concise way. Our prayer is that your students would grow in their relationship with God by writing down what He has done in their life. We also pray that by going through this training that they would feel empowered to share their stories with each other for encouragement and for those who do not know Jesus to come to Him. Questions, please let us know. We would like to walk through this with you if you need it.
As someone who has done ministry, you have a passion to reach students. You also probably have tried working with other groups to reach students in school before. But, those opportunities did not return the results you desired. Some of them may have even caused hardship for your student ministry at church, pulling students away rather than helping you to grow.
Well, First Priority is different. We are not better, faster, or any other “er” than para-church ministries. We are different; we are multi-church. See, we believe the Holy Spirit is alive and well in every community in America. He is working in and through the local Church. What if we could help bring the local Church together around a school and give students from those churches a simple platform and plan to share Hope with their peers? We do not just believe that lives will change, we know because we have seen over 18,000 students come to follow Jesus in the past 18 months.
Will you do something different this fall? Will you allow us to join you and guide you as you reach students in your community? And yes, we do have a plan for COVID. Even if your school isn’t meeting in person, the students still have influence over each other and can influence their peers with hope and bring them into your community.
To get you started, be on the watch for next week’s email because we are going to be sending you a FREE resource to empower your students to share faith with their friends – Story Training.
Until next week,
Brad and Mark
With all the chaos in the world, God is still in charge and He is still moving in this country. Even with the shortened school year, we still celebrate 7924 students giving their lives to Christ. BOOM!
FP clubs may look different this year, but the core of First Priority remains the same; to teach students how to share their faith with their peers. We do not know if students will be able to gather together at school, but we do know there are multiple ways they can still share the Gospel of Christ. Let’s be there cheering them on. God is good!
We have great news!
We have a plan of action through our relationship with the Bible Project, YouVersion Bible APP, and our HOPE Strategy to train students to lead small FP Groups to reach their friends who are far from God in the Fall school year.
What is the Bible Project and YouVersion app?
The Bible project is a video platform (website) that explains the Bible. There will be a video to go along with each week of our HOPE cycle this year. It will be easy to find thru our HOPE guides online or the FP app.
YouVersion is the most downloaded free Bible app for phones and tablets. It was created and is operated by live church. We have uploaded a prayer guide reading plan for students to use to get ready for school.
Basically a reading plan lasts 30 days. Once you download and open the app, click on plans- then search First Priority. Every day the app will remind the user to read the scripture for that day. This will reoccur for 30 days or until the plan is finished.
Once we begin FP meetings, there will be a reading plan to go with each month of the HOPE cycle and there will remain a follow up reading plan for students who accept Christ all year!
Take the time to listen to Jeff Stanford explain that “Build it Big now” does not work with First Priority. It takes time to build relationships and to win the trust of people, but it is totally worth it in the end.
Joel Rowland, First Priority Director of FP Front Range, started a project called Your Story Matters where he interviews students and community leaders to bring Hope and Good News! Check out his interview with Claire, an 8th grader, as she tells her story of how First Priority impacted her life so that she could impact the lives of her peers.
People like to do things. We are seeing that with Covid more than ever. Many times it just takes someone stepping out and making plans for that to happen. Take little league baseball for example. Without the league office and parent volunteers, no 5 year old would have the opportunity to swing a bat. The same is true with getting believers together to pray.
There are 2 opportunities for community prayer that we encourage here at First Priority.
The first is gathering adults from area churches before school begins to pray together at the school. In Tennessee, the state government has taken the first step for us and declared the weekend before school starts each year to be the ‘Weekend of Prayer over Students’ (see graphic below). It is our excuse to promote this to church leaders in our cities, gather the Christian students, their parents, and all other prayer warriors to pray together for the school. Whatever your situation is in your community, make a declaration, call it something, create a graphic, and use that as an excuse to get people to pray for the students at school. This event is crucial every year, but there is so much more to pray about together this year than any recent years!
To give you the start of a plan for this, let me tell you that in Spring Hill we set different times throughout the weekend for each school so people can participate in more than one gathering. So for example, Spring Station Middle School is Saturday morning at 9, Summit High school is Saturday morning at 10, Heritage Middle is Sunday night at 6, and Independence High School is Sunday night at 7. I lead Spring Station and Summit’s prayer gathering. I simply invite everyone to gather at the front door (outside) and we pray what is on our hearts. That typically takes anywhere from 10-20 minutes with under 12 people praying. I then ask everyone to walk around the outside of the building one time in prayer. I usually have a mix of personalities; by this I mean that some walk in silence while others walk in groups and make prayer declarations out loud.
The second prayer opportunity is See You At the Pole. People usually fall into 2 camps with SYATP. You either have never heard of it, or remember it as something students did in the 90’s. it is a movement that began in Texas in the 90’s and spread around the world in a short period of time. For us at FP, we consider it another excuse to petition God on behalf of the students and school leadership. For 2020, the universal date is Wednesday, September 23. Prayer happens at the flag pole starting 30 minutes before school begins. This time typically allows for students who ride the bus, or get a parent’s ride, to at the very least catch the end of it. It is always cool to watch the crowd grow as the busses arrive and the prayer is happening. Of course the crowd size is usually dependent on how well you did in getting the student pastors and parents involved in getting the word out. You can check out more information at www.syatp.com. They typically have the current year resources up by mid July. Again, it is an excuse to give your students leadership of their faith at the public school.
Don’t miss the opportunity for 2020! Our students, parents, teachers, and school administration need us to pray for them this year more than ever.
When a new community starts First Priority, we walk though a 4 phase process. Just like good Baptists, all the beginning letters are the same, we might even throw a poem in at the end just to bring it home. Ha!
With all that said we at FPoA are excited about the future expansion of First Priority into other communities. We are currently helping 8 cities get started. Kansas City, Orlando, Fort Worth, Denver, Richmond VA, Fredrick, MD, Springfield, MO, and Jackson, MS. We currently have what we like to call a Nehemiah in 5 of these communities. (Nehemiah showed up and leveraged what was already in the city to rebuild the torn down walls of Jerusalem). Jonathan Pugsley in KC, Wilson Clark in Orlando, Joel Rowland in Denver, Beth Endeda in Richmond, VA, and Jeff Stanford in Springfield, MO. Please pray God gives favor to these new coordinators as they work to build networks and train to start clubs this fall. Also be in prayer that God raises up a Nehemiah in the rest of the cities. If you have not seen our 2 minute Nehemiah video you can click here and see it.
We also want to let you know that we pray God uses you in your community to see students come to Christ. We are in a time in our history where the message of the gospel is important to share with our country and especially students. If you would like to get First Priority started in your community, please visit www.firstpriority.club/startaclub. We would love for you to join our growing First Priority family.
I have heard story after story about FP student leaders and even students who weren’t leaders going on after they graduate to serve in First Priority in some capacity. Some of them have become a campus coach, faculty sponsor, priority parent, or even a full-time Director of FP in their area. It is amazing to see the club that they once valued in middle or high school, becoming a big part of their life as an adult as well. Here is a story out of FP Blue Ridge about a recent graduate who plans to keep helping with First Priority beyond high school. This is from FP Director Haley Wherry:
A First Priority Student Leader who just graduated called me. In 7th grade, he launched First Priority in his middle school, and then was a leader who revitalized First Priority in his high school. His younger brother was a leader in the middle school and will be a leader in the high school, and his youngest brother will be a lead in the middle school this year. The reason he called me was to ask if First Priority was in any of the schools near the local college he will begin attending in the fall. He wants to be a Campus Coach in one of them. When I told him that no schools in that area had First Priority clubs, he said he would help to launch at least one club in one of the schools and coach it while he was in college. He then told me that he was going to college to be a teacher and that he would be a First Priority Faculty Sponsor wherever he served in the future.
First Priority is changing the lives of students. It works. And it’s long lasting. And our hope is that we can see First Priority in every school across the nation so that all students can hear the Gospel of Christ.