Connecting the Church to Reach the Campus for Christ

First-PriorityThree of the largest school districts in the country are right here in South Florida: Miami-Dade County is the 2nd largest, Broward County the 5th and Palm Beach County is the 12th. These are only three of the five counties First Priority serves. Startling evidence shows that 96% of those students do not attend church or show evidence of a personal relationship with Christ, which demonstrates the urgent need for us to meet them where they are — the campus. The greatest influence on a teenager is a peer, so First Priority partners with the local church to equip students to share their faith with their friends on campus. A majority of Christians state that their decision to follow Christ was made by age 18. If we do not equip students to fulfill the Great Commission, we could be only one generation away from catastrophic faith abandonment. First Priority partners with local churches, equipping students, youth pastors and teacher sponsors with a strategy and resources to make a difference on campus. Students are on a nine-month mission trip at school, in their culture – the campus.

How It All Began
First Priority of Broward County was officially founded in 1998 when Chris Lane resigned as youth pastor from a local church and started First Priority. That first year was focused on starting clubs, networking youth pastors and developing a support base. Over the next few years the ministry continued to grow as more campus clubs were formed. The first office was in Chris’ garage and then moved to a local church until 2001 when the Foundation Center became First Priority’s home. The staff has grown from 1 to 12 employees and now serves 165 campus clubs in Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, Port St. Lucie and Martin counties.

A Gospel-Centered Strategy
First Priority strongly believes in the local church and would not exist without it. Their goal is to bridge the gap from the church to the campus then direct students back to Bible-believing churches for discipleship. Executive Director Chris Lane shared, “It gets people excited to know that there are weekly meetings on public school campuses where Christian students are meeting, praying and sharing their faith. Yes, the Bible is being read and prayer is happening regularly on public school campuses.” When students receive Christ at their First Priority club, they are encouraged to get connected to the body of Christ at a local church where they can grow in their new faith. Youth pastors are excited to partner with First Priority because campus clubs are the platform to extend their youth ministry’s influence beyond the walls of the church to the public school campus. “We have been engaged in the battle for this generation on campus for 16 years now,” said Lane. “We have a highly effective strategy that focuses on reaching the lost. During the 2013-2014 school year, we have record of over 3,582 students making a decision for Christ!”

Effective Strategy
First Priority has developed a 4-week strategy that enables students to fulfill Mark 16:15: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” Since each club meets once a week, it takes a club one month to go through a T.E.A.M cycle, which stands for Testify, Equip, Aim and Mission. Activities during the first three weeks train students to testify, equip and aim students in preparation for the fourth Mission Week where unsaved friends are invited to a pizza party with the Gospel presented by a guest speaker! It’s a party with a purpose that happens each month. To reach every student on every public middle and high school campus in South Florida and the Treasure Coast with the Gospel is their First Priority.

For more information, visit: www.firstpriority.cc or call 954-315-2222. They can also be found at Facebook.com/firstpriorityFL or on Twitter and Instragram @FirstPrioritySF.

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