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Priority Parents

Naming Loss

By Nehemiah, Priority Parents No Comments

These unprecedented times we find ourselves living in right now have brought many mixed emotions. You hear stories of families connecting more, times of rest and relaxation, and less stress. People are reaching out more and helping their neighbors and even strangers in ways they have never done before. It has brought a thankfulness and gratitude towards nurses, doctors, teachers, grocery store workers, etc. that maybe we all took for granted.

On the other side, I know many people are struggling greatly. And the losses they are dealing with are heavy. And they don’t know how they are going to make it.

During this time of the unknown it is important that we can name those things we are grateful for but also those things we have lost. Many times we focus on only trying to be thankful and talk about the things that are good. Which is a great thing to do. But it is just as important to name and recognize our losses. Our students and kids especially need to recognize that naming their loss is ok. It’s not a bad thing to think about something we have lost and only name what we are grateful for. Naming it gives us a chance to mourn and move on.

We hung a paper on our refrigerator about a month ago and started this process of naming things we are grateful for and things that are losses. We haven’t been great about naming things every week but I think just having it up there reminds us that it’s okay to have these feelings of both loss and gratefulness side by side. It helps us recognize that there is both pain and joy in what we face not only during this time in our lives, but at any time. I used to shelter my kids from anything bad. I didn’t want them to know I was sad or angry or had a bad day. But kids need to see that part of us. They need to know that naming a loss is normal so that when it happens to them, they know how to mourn the loss and pick back up and move on.

So I would encourage you during this time, no matter where you find yourself, to be thankful and grateful for the things God is doing or has provided but that it is also okay and just as important to recognize those things that you have lost. And help those students around you to do the same.

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.

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.

Training Student Leaders to bring H.O.P.E to their School

By Priority Parents, Student Leaders, FP Tools, Faculty Sponsors No Comments

HOPE classroomStudents are on the greatest mission field in America: school. Engaged in the middle of the “game,” students are the players we are here to train, pray for, and support, just as we do for foreign missionaries. First Priority clubs follow a four-week strategy called HOPE.  HOPE is an acronym for Help, Overcome, Prepare, and Engage.  

The H.O.P.E. strategy gives the student missionaries the action steps and direction they need to reach out to their peers at school. It is broken-down into these four actions:

  • HELP: Equipping Christian students with foundational truth to be able to articulate a simple gospel message in thirty seconds or less.
  • OVERCOME: Motivation and inspiration to overcome our fear, worry and doubts we have about sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.
  • PREPARE: Giving 1-3 students the opportunity to prepare and share their journey of faith in God (in its entirety or in part).
  • ENGAGE: The opportunity for the believing students to invite their non-believing friends they have been praying for to come and hear about the HOPE of Christ.

Each month, they are provided with a HOPE weekly guide that helps them focus on a group and share the message of Jesus Christ with unbelieving students.

The H.O.P.E weekly guides are a resource we provide for free when you download our app on the app store or google play. They are also available as part of the club kit you can purchase in our online store.

Summer Prayer Challenge: Week 9 – SELF-CONTROL

By Local FP Communities, Priority Parents, Student Leaders No Comments

The act of saying “yes” to Jesus causes the “fruit of the Spirit” to come through us! The ninth fruit we are focusing on is SELF-CONTROL. It is difficult in the world we live in to not give in to those things around us that pull us in many different directions away from who we are called to be as Christians. The Bible “teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age”- Titus 2:12. 

Self-Control

Challenge: Pray this week that God would give you the strength to turn from the worldly wants and desires around us and to seek Him. Showing others what it means to live with self-control so that they may also be encourage to live in the same way.

// Thus you will walk in the ways of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. – Proverbs 2:20 //

Summer Prayer Challenge: Week 8 – GENTLENESS

By Local FP Communities, Priority Parents, Student Leaders, Community Leaders No Comments

The act of saying “yes” to Jesus causes the “fruit of the Spirit” to come through us! The eighth fruit we are focusing on is GENTLENESS. We serve a loving God and He has many ways of gently leading us forward. Psalm 119:105 says “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Gentleness copy

Challenge: Pray this week that God would gently lead you toward Him and help you lead others to Him. Specifically, how can you be more gentle in situations to the people around you?
Let’s also pray for the students who will be sharing about GENTLENESS In their schools during the month eight HOPE cycle. 


//let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person- Colossians 4:6//

Thank you for your Partnership

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

Thank you for your partnership in the ministry of First Priority!  We are always encouraged by people who are passionate about reaching students, our future generations. We see the despair of middle and high school students brought on by abuse, addiction, depression, and suicide. Our goal is to bring the HOPE of Christ to every student in America. This past school year, we trained 3,608 Christian students to lead a First Priority club on 820 schools around the country and we saw 10,022 students come to know Christ!  This all happened inside public school buildings this school year! Thank you for being a part of that!

Henry Ford-2We are on our way to helping the 325,000 local churches in our country to influence all 41,000 public middle and high schools. We believe the body of Christ is alive and well in every community in America. What would happen if we got churches in your community to work together to influence their schools with the gospel? After all, Christian churches outnumber public schools four to one! This wouldn’t happen without you working in your community! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Keep praying for the lost to hear the gospel in your schools. Continue helping train and equip the Christian students to share their faith with them. And most importantly, talk about First Priority with family and friends in and out of your community. If nobody is sharing Jesus with the lost students in your school, nobody is sharing Jesus with lost students in your school! We are always one generation away from missing them entirely.

Summer Prayer Challenge: Week 2- JOY

By Local FP Communities, Priority Parents, Student Leaders, Church Leaders, Community Leaders No Comments

The act of saying “yes” to Jesus causes the “fruit of the Spirit” to come through us! And the second fruit we are focusing on is JOY. As we hold onto God we can have gladness that overflows into our friends, family, and the world. Joy

Challenge: Let’s pray that this week we would pursue the Joy of the Lord even when life gets tough. Let’s pray that that Joy would overflow out of us so that we can impact the people around us for the sake of the Gospel.

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

I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my Joy. Yes, your joy will overflow -John 15:11

Parents See God Move among Their Students

By Local FP Communities, Priority Parents No Comments

Story from a parent whose son is involved in FP North Alabama

My son Avery, went to FP last week and the leader asked them to write a name down, pray for the person, and invite them to FP this week.

He invited an atheist friend who flat out said, “No!”

None of his friends went with him; so, he went alone.  He said only about 6 people showed up; so, the pastor asked them to take extra sausage and biscuits to their friends.

Avery grabbed 3 extras and headed towards his friends, who didn’t see him coming.  One friend, who he isn’t sure he’s a believer said, “Today is going to be awful because I’m so hungry!”  Avery walked up, reached around him and put the sausage and biscuit in his face.  His friend was amazed and said, “How did you know? How did you do that?”

He was able to talk to him about FP a little more.  This friend said, “Ok, I may start going there with you.”

God is working in many ways!  He’s training our kids to disciple, to overcome objections and criticism, and to know that God will set up situations to help them reach others!

Thank you for your prayers and for all you do every week!  Thank the Pastor who devotes his time there too. This is from a parent, it’s not the numbers but the faithful obedience of the ones who answer the call.