Engaging a Generation

First Priority works with local churches to impact students’ lives before they leave for college

As the new school year begins, parents and students alike are on the lookout for clubs and extracurricular activities that capture their attention and give students something constructive to do. One place that many students flock to at the beginning of the school year is First Priority of South Florida. With the goal of uniting local churches with school campuses, First Priority equips students with the tools needed to evangelize on their mission field, alongside their friends and other students.

“First Priority is really an opportunity for your teenager to integrate their faith into daily life at school. Through weekly club meetings, students have the opportunity to meet other Christians, as well as become better equipped to share their faith on campus,” states Sarah Hajduk, First Priority’s community relations director. “The vision of First Priority is to equip and empower student missionaries. And the mission fields are the schools right here in our very own community.”

First Priority has provided the means to carry out this vision here in South Florida for more than 10 years, and today there are First Priority clubs on more than 116 school campuses in Broward, Miami, Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties, with approximately 2,000 students meeting on a weekly basis. It comes as no surprise that students, equipped with the encouragement and tools to evangelize through their First Priority club, are truly making a difference on their campus.

“On average, we see about 200 students receive Christ each month through a network of 116 clubs. The power of one life changed is exponential,” adds Hajduk. “It’s not unusual for a student to ultimately end up leading their siblings and parents to Christ. When the Gospel is proclaimed, seeds are sown and only eternity will reveal the harvest.”

Students in First Priority clubs follow what is known as the T.E.A.M. framework, a repetitive cycle that starts up again at the beginning of every month.

“For instance,” Hajduk says, “the first week of the month is typically Training Week, followed by Encouragement, Accountability and Mission Week. After Mission Week, the cycle starts again with Training Week, where new believers have the opportunity to be a part of a small group and discuss foundations of their new faith.”

First Priority’s Annual Campus Club Kickoff is happening this month, and students are encouraged to come out and learn how they can be empowered to share their love for Christ with their friends on campus. Instead of First Priority’s usual One Night event, which used to include students from all schools in the county, this year, the organization will host kickoff events at different locations across South Florida to provide kids a chance to meet their local teacher sponsors, campus coaches and current student leaders. (See dates and details.)

With so many upcoming First Priority events to kick off the new school, how do students and parents feel about these clubs on school campuses?

“I’ve been a part of First Priority since ninth grade. It was a place I went for accountability, conviction, knowledge of the Word and just my general growth in the Lord. Without it, I would not be where I stand with Christ today,” says a student from Boca Raton High School.

Jeff Borton, a high school pastor with Christ Fellowship Miami states, “First Priority is an answer to prayer for us. Over 45,000 high school students live within 15 miles of our church, and since they don’t all show up to our church on the weekend, we knew we had to take the Gospel to them. First Priority is a first-class organization from top to bottom. They are prepared, knowledgeable about laws and other issues, as well as spiritual, godly people. They are encouraging and authentic in living out what they believe.”

Whether or not they’re believers, parents also see the imprint that First Priority makes on their children.

“Sometimes parents are initially skeptical about their student attending a faith-based club, but given the opportunity, parents begin to see the positive influence it has on their child,” says Hajduk. “The principles taught in Scripture lay a moral foundation for teenagers, and even parents who don’t have a religious background desire for their kids to make wise choices regarding drugs, alcohol, sex and other pressures teenagers face. Parents are seeing the impact of positive peer pressure through the Christian friends their students meet at the First Priority clubs.”

For details, visit www.FirstPriority.cc or call 954-315-2222. See sidebar for information on upcoming events.
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