Healthy student ministries help their students to connect with God’s heart for the nations. From the beginning of scripture to the end it is clear that God is building a people from every tribe and tongue. I think you would agree with me that student ministry in general needs to do a better job at connecting students to this truth. The problem is that it is so easy for us to get stuck in our bubble, and even easier for our students to do the same. In order to truly see students graduate from your ministry with God’s heart for the nations it is something that you need to keep in front of them on a regular basis. This brings us to two important questions…
Question 1: What does it look like for a student to have God’s heart for the nations?
- They understand and can articulate the gospel.
- They understand that the gospel is meant to reach beyond them and their immediate circle.
- They have predetermined to say “yes” to God in whatever He calls them to do or wherever He calls them to go.
- They begin to care less about the things of this world because their gaze is becoming more and more focused on Jesus.
- They begin to use the platforms God has given them in this moment as opportunities to share the gospel.
- They will become less and less content with what many (unfortunately) may see as normal Christianity.
- They will want to bring others along with them in their pursuit of taking Jesus to the ends of the earth.
- They will want to go to the nations, and if that isn’t possible they will find a way to be connected to what God is doing around the world.
Question 2: How can I keep God’s heart for the nations in front of my students on a regular basis?
- Preach the gospel clearly at every opportunity. As people come to understand more about the gospel – what it is, how to share it, how it has changed them – the natural progression is for someone to develop God’s heart for people.
- Spend time focusing on what God is doing in other parts of the world.
- Connect with missionaries who can share and give a firsthand account of how God is working and using them on the mission field.
- Give your students opportunities to go on mission trips. Every student should have the opportunity to go on an international mission trip before they graduate high school. If your church has an already existing partnership with a specific area of the world, awesome. If you need help with planning and going on a trip check out www.accessthenations.com. We would love to help you.
- Encourage your students to take seriously the learning of a language in high school. Most schools require it and most students are haphazard with it. This is a skill that can directly link to effective work and developing a love for a certain people.
- Help your students to see that “missions” is more than just a trip that takes place once a year. If you partner with a specific people group or country through your trip, find ways to highlight those partnerships throughout the year.
- Teach your students how to give and help them understand stewardship.
- Instill in them the reality that they can change the world as a teenager. Your students can make a difference right now and many times they don’t see it as a possibility. Give them opportunities to dream big about what God may be calling them to do and then help them see the steps they need to take to execute it.
On a recent trip to East Asia the Lord moved deeply in my heart in the area of mobilizing students to the nations. It’s something I’ve been passionate about both as a student pastor and now as I lead the Lifeway Students team, but that passion has been renewed and multiplied through the conversations I had as I sat face-to-face with some of the missionaries from that area. As I observed the people in the two countries and five cities that I visited, it resounded to me over and over that those people don’t need our money, our government, our American view, or us to ride in on a white horse and save the day. What they need is the gospel. Your students can, and should, be part of the army that God is raising up to take His story to the ends of the earth.
This post was written by Ben Trueblood, Director of Lifeway Student Ministry