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.
- Student Ministry and Missional Communities
- Student Ministry Gatherings
- Student Ministry and LTGs
- Student Ministry and Third Place
- Student Ministry and Volunteer Missional Communities
Student Ministry and Volunteer Missional Communities
It was about a year into implementing our new model of student ministry when we started to realize one of our biggest struggles. Our volunteers were getting burnt out and leaving our ministry. After many discussions, we began to realize that our leaders felt a missional tension in their souls. What was their mission?
One of the biggest blessings of being at a missionally focused church is that people start desiring to see their spheres of influence redeemed by the gospel. Our volunteers desired that as well. However, when they looked at their schedule they saw the need to lead a discipleship community, show up every Sunday for student gathering, be at every event, be in a missional community, be a part of two different third places, etc. That’s exhausting! Not to mention unsustainable.
Student Volunteer Missional Communities
This year we decided to implement a student volunteer missional community at each of our campuses. This would allow our leaders the freedom to whole-heartedly pursue students as their missional focus and not feel guilty.
In Todd’s “Stages of Missional Community Development” he writes how the goal is to move every group to become a missionary team. He defines a Missionary Team as “a core group fo committed people trying to reach a defined pocket of people”.
He goes on to say that, “this kind of community is the truest form of how we define missional community”. With that in mind we realized that our volunteers where a (very!) committed group of people trying to reach a very specific pocket of people: students! Having this clarity is starting to free up our volunteers focus and time.
Our missional community practices all the main elements of an mc: we gather together, share a family meal, and implement LTG. Our third place typically revolves around a sporting or youth event and we also see each other every Sunday during our student worship gathering.
Some have asked me if this hinders my volunteers from being able to reach their neighbors or co-workers. This is a great question. Simply because they have a missional focus of students doesn’t mean they stop sharing Christ with those in their spheres of influence. We have actually seen the strength of our “student volunteer community” be the strongest apologetic to our non-believing friends. We also invite them to come to sporting games with us or out to eat with our community.
Overall, I believe this will be the best move we’ll ever make in regards to the overall health of our students ministry. Launching student volunteer missional communities galvanizes your volunteers, gives them missional focus, and allows your student to witness a healthy community.
What challenges do you see with our approach to student ministry at The Austin Stone?