Archives For mc-students

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 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?

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?

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 Life Transformation Groups

The most powerful moments in our ministry that I can recall of the past year revolve around students learning to read the Bible, repent of sin, and pray for their lost friends. Many of my high school boys have started to read their Bible on a daily basis for the first time in their life. One even sends me pictures of his journal entries for accountability!

I’ve seen students repent of pornography addiction, cutting, eating disorders, and take steps towards healing through the power of the gospel. We’ve also seen our students pray for their friends, invite them to church and share the gospel with them. Powerful stuff.

If you’ve kept up with Todd’s blog you’ll see that we practice what we call Life Transformation Groups or LTG for short. You can get caught up on the practices of LTG within our church here.

Discipleship Communities

Within the student ministry we instituted a hybrid version of LTG that we call Discipleship Communities or D-Comms for short. We gather age and gender specific groups of 4 to 6 students with 2 student volunteer leaders. It doesn’t always play out that way, but it’s what we’re striving towards.

Just as in our LTG’s we emphasize three components.  

  • Hear and Obey – we want our students to learn to read the Bible for themselves. We use the REAP method of study which you can read about here (add link). Then we want our students to hold each other accountable to actually living out what they read!
  • Repent and Believe – we desire our students to identify their sin, confess and repent of their sin, and be healed of their sin. Then the student volunteer leader aides in a discussion on how the gospel speaks to that sin specifically. Hopefully as time passes our students learn how to speak the gospel to one another without the aide of the volunteer.
  • Consider and Pray – we want our students praying for their schools, their clubs/organizations, and individual names of other students within those spheres of influence. Then we want to encourage each other to think through opportunities to share the gospel in those environments.

BLESSing Others

Another crucial component in teaching our students to live on mission within our d-comms is to utilize the tool from Dave Ferguson called B.L.E.S.S. This gives our students simple and practical ways to live a life on mission.

The acronym stands for:

  • Begin with Prayer: Our students are doing this already within their d-comm.
  • Listen: We want our students listening to their friends so that they know their story.
  • Eat: We want our kids sharing meals with their non-believing friends either in their homes, out with larger groups, or through events.
  • Serve: We want our kids thinking and dreaming of ways to serve their friends.
  • Story: We want to hold our kids accountable to sharing the story of Jesus with their friends on a regular basis. We have found that this is a simple and reproducible way to teach our students how to live on mission.

The BLESS tool has been incredibly helpful and memorable for our students! How are you helping students be a disciple of Jesus?

Student Ministry Gatherings

September 11, 2013 — 12 Comments

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 Gatherings

In my last post I gave an overarching view of our student ministry at the Stone. I stated that we believe that our role is to “equip parents who will disciple their kids and disciple kids whose parents won’t”. Todd has written extensively about incorporating children into the life of your missional community and I briefly touched on how we strive to equip our parents.

Yet, how do we functionally operate as a student ministry?

Sunday Morning Gatherings

Since we are a mobile, multi-site church, we gather our students for worship, teaching and fellowship on Sundays at every campus during our 11:15 service. Why 11:15 you ask? Great question. Since most teenagers are a terror to try and get out of bed on a weekend and since we desire parents to keep their sanity during the process, we deduced that 11:15 would allow enough time for families with older kids to make it to service without killing one another!

I know your also thinking, “Hold on…no Wednesday night gatherings with pizza before hand?” First, to assuage your food worries and concerns, we have found a better substitute for pizza. Since our ministry is located in Austin, Texas we provide breakfast tacos. There is a breakfast taco restaurant every few miles and it is food group in and of itself here! All joking aside, we chose Sunday’s because we desire our students’ week to be freed up so that they can integrate with their family’s missional community and be involved in a discipleship community. Our desire was to be less programmatic and more relational.

Teaching & Discussion

Our Sunday gatherings consist of worship, teaching and discussion groups. The teaching is aligned with the preaching from the main pulpit so that we can help cultivate conversation between parents and their kids once they leave service. This provides a common language as parents continue in their call to disciple their children.

Not only do we align teaching, but we also provide a space for discussion groups for our students after the teaching. After many sermons where I would ask the kids what I taught on last week and there would be no response I figured something needed to change. Now, after each teaching we allow space for our students to converse with their leaders and each other.

We usually revolve conversation around two simple questions:

  1. What is God showing you? 
  2. What are you going to do about it? 
These discussion groups allow students a place to discuss areas they need to grow, or be encouraged to share the gospel with a specific friend, etc. We’ve seen more retention with our students since giving them some time to dialogue.

Assimilation

Lastly, Sunday is a great space to assimilate kids into your ministry. It gives us a space where we can meet families, get kids connected to discipleship communities, and let them know what events are coming up. I strongly believe there is still a seat at the table for students to gather together even within the missional framework. Students need to be in a space where there is common social fabric.

Gathering together allows our students a place to know others and be known by others. It allows them a space to invite their friends to hear Christ proclaimed and start gospel conversations. It also allows kids with no strong parental support a place a familial stability.

What role do you think gatherings play in student ministry?

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 & Missional Communities

Youth Ministry. Just let it sit for a second.

The mere mention of “Youth Ministry” invokes a wide array of emotions and memories for many people. The mental recollection of youth group often includes (but is not limited to); chubby bunny, lock-ins, ridiculous skits, church camp, purity rings, and 15 passenger vans barreling down the high way threatening the safety of anyone within a two-mile radius.

However, as the missional movement has permeated the church, it has left many asking “how does youth/student ministry interact with the missional movement itself?” Some have responded by completely doing away with student ministry while others have continued on the traditional attractional path of being a “holding tank with pizza” as Ed Stetzer so elegantly put it.

However, I don’t believe it has to be either/or, instead we believe it can be a both/and. I mean who doesn’t love pizza?

Family Ministry

In the Student Ministry at the Stone, we say that our role is to “equip parents who will disciple their kids and to disciple kids whose parent’s won’t”. Our Lead Pastor, Kevin Peck, coined this phrase when we were discussing the future of youth ministry in our church. We believe that within this phrase we see the both/and of integrating children into missional communities while also providing a space for students to worship and grow together.

We firmly believe that Deuteronomy 6 calls parents to be the one who disciple their children. As much as I love spending time with students, I only get to see them at most 3 hours a week while parents at home get over 160 hours a week! This is why it’s so important to integrate your kids into the life of your missional community. Your kids need to see your faith in action, not simply the faith of their student leaders. Todd has written about the topic of integration recently here.

Not only are we fighting to get all of our families into a missional community, but we’re also equipping our parents through resources and training from different avenues within our church. We provide parenting books and classes through our resources ministry, advanced theological training through our Men & Women’s Development Program, and starting this year, parenting mini-conferences tackling challenging topics parents face on a daily basis.

Student Ministry

While we strongly affirm a parent’s role in discipling their children we are also aware that not all kids are coming from a gospel-centered home, or have parents at all. This reason alone is reason enough for us to continue to provide an age specific ministry. The call of Matthew 28:18-20 to make disciples, includes the call to reach out to students from 12-18 and show them the beauty of the gospel.

In our student ministry we do this through our Sunday gatherings, Discipleship Communities (our version of LTG), and last, but definitely not least, youth events. All of these I’ll cover more extensively in future posts.

I’ll never forget Alan Hirsch saying that either the church is going to disciple people or the culture will. How true does this statement ring with the youth of today? They have greater access to information than any time in human history. They are around other youth at school, clubs and organizations who are disseminating new information between one another daily. The call and responsibility on the church, families and student ministries today is great. Either we are going to disciple and shape our children or the culture will do it for us.

How is your church seeking to make disciples of students?