IMG_6367I used to think “I’ll just leave campus ministry up to great organizations like Youth For Christ and Young Life who specialize in working with schools.” However, in the past few years, as our culture has been shifting, I have realized that in order to be effective in youth ministry, I had to be more active and intentional in supporting students on campus as a major aspect of our church’s youth ministry. In addition to attending their games, concerts, plays, etc. (which I have always done), I have sought to encourage and support the student-led Christian Clubs that meet at schools. In doing so, I have realized that YFC and Young Life actually want youth pastors from local churches to be involved. Here are 10 ways I support Christian Clubs.

  1. Pray. Whenever I think of students throughout the day, I pause to pray for them. When I drive by their schools, I pray for students by name. I pray for Christian students to be faithful in their witness for Christ so that kids (and teachers and administrators) who don’t know Jesus will come know God’s love through them.
  2. Attend. I love to attend Christian Clubs and just be a fly on the wall. Currently I attend 3 clubs in our area each week, and I visit a few others throughout the year. It’s interesting to observe how each one functions. They’re all similar, but all unique.
  3. Speak. Occasionally a club will invite me to speak, which I always enjoy. I love the opportunity to share the gospel with those who are seeking, and to encourage the Christian students.
  4. Food. Kids love free food. Sometimes I randomly show up with pizza, tacos, or donuts. (Note: Always communicate with the club leaders ahead of time in case they already have food planned.)
  5. Fundraisers. Each year one of the clubs does a pizza fundraiser. I use some of our youth ministry budget to buy a bunch of pizzas and donate them to the club. I have also done things like printed materials for them. (Important: Don’t give them money as that can cause unnecessary questions and problems for the club.).
  6. Transportation. Here in New York, most of the Christian Clubs meet after school. Sometimes kids need transportation in order to participate. I offer to take kids home if they need a lift. (Note: Follow your church or organization’s guidelines for transporting students in accordance with insurance policies and safety practices.)
  7. Feedback. As I am a fly on the wall in the clubs, I can observe things that they do well and things that they can do better. After the meetings, the club leaders usually meet together to debrief and plan ahead. Sticking around for these meetings is an opportunity to help them think through things strategically.
  8. Soul Care. I really enjoy meeting with the leaders, not just to talk about the ins and outs of the clubs, but to talk about their own soul care. It’s not just about having a cool club, but about ministering out of the overflow of their own hearts, and that begins by cultivating their personal relationships with Christ.
  9. Resource. What do clubs need to succeed? Bibles? Mentoring? Leadership training? How can I provide that for them? Recently my own daughter had the dream to start the first ever Christian Club in her middle school. I networked and connected her with my friends at Youth For Christ who met with her, provided her with a manual to help her with all of the logistics, and met with her to mentor her. A Youth For Christ staff member and I both accompanied her when she met with school administration. We have sought to give her everything she needs to get her club going and build it for success.
  10. Leadership. Hands down the most important thing that student leaders need to be reminded of is the importance of developing other leaders. It’s easy for them (and all of us) to get caught up in the now. The club may be going awesome, but what will happen next year when you graduate? The one flag that I am constantly waving before club leaders is a long-term vision for the club. When they graduate, who will take over the club? How will they be selected? Will they be ready to lead when you leave? What are you doing now to encourage and empower them to lead? This is the hard work of leadership. Helping current leaders identify future leaders, and equip them to lead once they leave is of utmost importance.

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