First Prioirity Sarah Hajduk 6 Sep 2013 no comments The United States ranks as the fourth-largest mission field in the world. Millennials (those born between 1978 and 2000) in our nation number 95 million, with only 15 percent identifying themselves as evangelicals. This is the very definition of a post-Christian nation. A staggering 96 percent of South Florida’s population is lost or unchurched, even though many vibrant gospel-centered congregations exist in our community. The answer is not replacing the church but connecting Christ and culture through the local church. Author and Pastor, J.D. Greear, reminds us that “of the 40 miracles recorded in the book of Acts, 39 happened outside the church walls. That means our theater for ministry must be the community.” Reaching the next generation Local ministry First Priority sees miracles happen every week of the school year on public school campuses. Since 1998, First Priority’s mission has been “Connecting the Church to reach the Campus for Christ!” The ministry currently serves 152 public middle and high school campuses in 5 counties stretching from Miami-Dade to St. Lucie County. The success of First Priority begins and ends with the local church. The student leaders, youth pastors and faculty sponsors that partner with the ministry to form clubs belong to local congregations that have a heart to reach lost students on campus. 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 and on to the public school campus… the largest mission field in America. Making an impact Matt Boone, youth pastor at Church by the Glades, says, “I love knowing that when I challenge students on Wednesday night to share their faith at their school the next day, that there is a structure in place to support them on their campus through the ministry of First Priority.” Statements like this get Chris Lane, who has been the Executive Director of First Priority for the ministry’s entire 15 year history, excited and fired up.“The fact that over 100 churches are working together on public school campuses to reach students with the gospel is a special thing” says Lane. “We know that the Lord is pleased to see the body of Christ join forces with a common strategy to reach this generation. This synergy is being blessed by the Lord and students are being equipped to be a very valuable light in a dark world.” Living examples of Jesus In Alvin Reid’s newest book, As You Go, he explains, “The best way to reach the massive public school down the street is to have teachers and students leading gospel-centered lives on the campus as missionaries; which can be done daily whether these students ever attend a church event or not.” Missional student ministry cares more about making an impact on the local public school campus than filling up a room at church. According to Sarah Rodriguez, a junior at Park Vista High School, this approach really works. She shares, “My best friend Amy was Muslim. We had lunch together, shared classes and texted often. I gave her a Bible and shared my God story with her, but it was not enough. This school year we had First Priority during lunch time and she was willing to come and accepted Jesus! Amy is now attending on a regular basis, as First Priority is the only opportunity she has to hear about Jesus since she is not allowed to attend church. I am so thankful to have First Priority at my school and to play a part in it for God’s glory!” Sarah attends Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, one of First Priority’s committed church partners. Sharing Jesus in public school? The 1984 Equal Access Act gives students the right to initiate and lead a Christian club on campus under the supervision of a faculty sponsor. First Priority equips students to reach their peers using a simple and effective strategy that provides a structure for weekly meetings. This is a month-long cycle that leads up to Mission Week where students are encouraged to invite their peers to hear the gospel. Since students are usually very eager to satisfy their physical hunger after school, First Priority provides pizza. However, every month, teenagers realize they have a spiritual hunger as well. During the 2012-2013 school year, over 3,000 students made a decision to accept Christ as their savior on campus. First Priority is fervently working towards a goal of 300 campus clubs, covering the area from Monroe to Indian River Counties, by the end of 2016. How to Get Involved See You at the Pole On Wednesday, September 25, students around the world will gather around their flagpoles to pray for their nations, campuses and families. Log onto syatp.com for the history of this event and a planning guide to leading this event at your school. Students should plan to meet 30 minutes before school starts; and adults may observe from the sidelines. This event serves as a great opportunity to officially announce the First Priority club on campus. SYATP is just one day out of the year, but First Priority clubs meet every week. Middle and High School Students Get involved at a First Priority club on your campus. Visit firstpriority.cc for a complete listing of clubs. Don’t have a club on your campus? Not to worry, First Priority will give you the steps to get one started. Teachers First Priority clubs cannot legally meet without the presence of a school faculty member. Volunteer to sponsor a club or support one that is already meeting. Youth Leaders Your students’ world is their school campus – what better place to connect with them and their friends? First Priority will train you and provide the resources you need to go on campus and coach a club. Parents Pray for your students and support the club at your child’s school. Let the school administration know you appreciate the club. You can offer to supply refreshments for a club or even support the ministry of First Priority financially. Priority Partners Will you consider a monthly gift of $10 or more to First Priority? Visit firstpriority.cc for more information on how to donate to the ministry. For more information, visit www.firstpriority.cc or Facebook.com/firstpriorityFL, or call 954-315-2222. Sarah Hajduk is the Community Relations Directory for First Priority. She can be reached at [email protected] Share this articleTweet Leave a Reply Click here to cancel reply. You must be logged in to post a comment.