So… I am completely humbled at what God is doing in our High School ministry at Hopevale Church. Last night we concluded our SCHOOLED series and we talked about learning to be INVITATIONAL with our faith. We INVEST in friends who are far from God, INFORM them of our faith in Jesus, and then we take a huge risk and INVITE them into a relationship with Jesus. I used the story of Philip and Nathanael from John 1 where Philip met Nathanael’s skepticism with the response “Come and see.”
At the end of the night I gave our students 3 options for application: 1) Invite their friends to our Back to School Bash next Sunday night (we had invite cards for them to pass out) 2) Invite their friends to our Sunday night programming, or 3) take a BIG RISK and INVITE them into a relationship with Jesus (I had a stack of “Knowing God Personally” Tracts that they could use). At the end of the night I had a few of our Back to School Bash cards left… BUT NO TRACTS AT ALL! In fact, I had to run to my car to get my own personal stash out of my glovebox to give to students. I heard story after story from our High School students about friends that they wanted to share these with. I’ve been a youth pastor for 12 years and I have NEVER experienced a night like that. Students fired up not only to invite their friends to a program… but to literally sit down with their friends and walk them through the gospel.
Only ONE word describes me right now… HUMBLED.
So we are kicking off this new school year in HSM [hopevale student ministries] by teaching a series called “SCHOOLED” that is all about how Christian students can take Jesus with them to their schools, work, teams, etc… and share Him with their friends. Let’s face it, one of the most INTIMIDATING things to do as a follower of Jesus [especially in our culture right now] is to share our faith with others… especially for our students. Whenever I have talked about this in the past… I am met with dull stares or questions like “How in the world can I do that and still have friends at the end of the day?” So what we have done in this series is borrow a few ideas and create a few others that will hopefully give students a strategy for reaching their friends. Our strategy centers around 3 key words that I’m sure you have heard before… but we may use them a little different: INVEST, INFORM, & INVITE.
First we challenge students to INVEST in their friends who are far from God. This means learning to unconditionally love someone… no matter the result. We challenged our students who may not have far from God friends to actually make contact with them… NO CONTACT=NO IMPACT. Investing is all about the other person… not about you. Most of the time we look for relationships that give us something back. This challenge is to learn to love others with no strings attached.
Second we challenge students to INFORM their friends of their faith in Christ. There is a little more risk involved with this step… because you are exposing who you are and what you believe. You have to be vulnerable here. This is a very important step though… because it helps their friends connect the dots between the investment and WHY you live the way you do. Our main point during this whole step though is to watch how you are living your life. WHY? Because HOW YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE WILL EARN YOU THE RIGHT TO BE HEARD.
Finally, we are challenging students this Sunday night to learn to be INVITATIONAL with their relationship with Christ. It is more than just inviting their friend to church. That is like 50% of it. The other 50% is learning what Jesus meant when he said “Go and make disciples.” We want students to learn how to invite their friends into a growing relationship with Jesus. Learning to do this is a huge part of maturing in your faith and can feel SUPER RISKY AND SCARY… but the reward FAR OUTWEIGHS the risk!
I am SOOOO pumped about what God could do through this series with our students this year!!!