Student Ministry and Third Place

September 16, 2013 — Leave a comment

Over the next few weeks, I’ve asked several members of our team at The Austin Stone to write about how missional communities integrate with some of their areas of ministry.  To start with, my friend (and former intern!) Scott Frazier wrote a series on Student Ministry and Missional Communities.  You can find more about our Student Ministry here.

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Student Ministry and Third Place

I don’t know about you, but there isn’t much I miss about my teen years! I don’t miss the awkwardness, the drama, the hormonal changes, the ungodly amount of Axe that I used or the copious amounts of hair gel…just being honest. However, I do miss one thing specifically. The amount of time and close proximity I got to spend with non-believers on a daily basis. I shared Jesus with my friends on my sports teams, my academic clubs, and in the classroom on a regular basis.

The Perpetual Third Place

Todd has written about Third Place here and describes it as a place where the missional community can be intentionally missional. Third place is a location where you can introduce your lost friends to your community. The beauty of being in Junior High or High School is that you they are perpetually in a third place.

Their school, classrooms, clubs, organizations and sports teams allow them an environment to engage non-believers regularly. We encourage our students to get together with a few of their believing friends and pursue the friends they have been praying for in their d-comms.

Games, Recitals and Events

There are also great rhythms in the life of students that allow our volunteer leaders to engage them as well. There are sports games, recitals and regular events that we can assimilate our lives alongside. Going to these allow our student ministry team to gain the trust of our students, their families, and getting to incarnate ourselves amongst their non-believing friends.

We also view our student events that we program as a third place environment. Whether we are renting out go kart track, throwing a pool party, doing a lock-out, or a movie night these are places where our students can invite their friends. These events are inviting, fun, create a shared experience and gives us time to build relational capital.

Overall, encourage your students to take advantage of this amazing opportunity to share Jesus with their friends they see constantly and join alongside of them as often as possible.

Finally, this is a critical place for parent involvement! Most of the time, parents are integrally involved in these kinds of environments.  They’re staying to watch the game, they’re helping out at events, they’re hosting kids in their home.  For parents of youth, we strongly encourage them to invite other parents to spend some time together, and foster relationships with the entire family.

This is a simple way to integrate life and “do mission to your kids, and through your kids.”

What have you found helpful in creating overlap between your Christian community and those who don’t yet know Jesus?

Todd Engstrom

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Although I was raised in the church and had a knowledge of God, I didn’t embrace Jesus until I heard gospel preached and lived out by some Young Life leaders. God has proven faithful and good to me since that day, even in great suffering and loss. I have learned to treasure Romans 8:28 as a wellspring of hope and truth. God has blessed me with an amazing wife (Olivia), three sons (Micah, Hudson and Owen) and a daughter (Emmaline). Growing up in the northwest, the thought never crossed my mind that I would have four children who are native Texans. Despite landing in the south, I still watch Notre Dame games with my children every Saturday in hopes they will land at my alma mater.

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