So, I have an admission to make. My close family knows this about me already, but I am reticent to tell others about my sketchy past. You ready for it…here it comes. I liked to read encyclopedias as a kid. I read them all the time. I even read them when I was in the bathroom. Now, after that bombshell of a revelation, I am sure that there are teenagers who are scratching their heads wondering what an encyclopedia is. Well, It was a set of books that held small articles about a whole host of topics. Think Google search in book form.
Reading encyclopedias as a kid is where I received a great deal of the copious amounts of useless knowledge that currently rattles around in my head on a daily basis. While a lot of that knowledge will never be put to use, I did use a good bit of geographic knowledge I gained when I was teaching history and geography as a high school teacher. I also use that geographical knowledge as a student pastor.
You may be wondering how geography and student ministry relate to one another. Matthew 28:16-20 tells us that we are to go into all the world and make disciples. No part of the world that is off limits to sharing the Gospel with others. This means that we don’t just need to know our bibles, but also know our geography. We need to have a desire to see those around us both in a local context as well as in a global context to hear and believe the Gospel. This should be the heartbeat of all that we do in ministry through the local church. There are three reasons that I, as a student pastor, want to encourage my students and families to engage in missions and sharing the Gospel, both at home and abroad.
- It is a lifestyle- Sharing the Gospel on missions, no matter where these missions take place, becomes a lifestyle for a believer. If you lead students and families to engage in missions both in their local contexts, as well as globally, you will encourage them to see their whole lives as an opportunity to share with those around them. We want to inspire students to take part in missions, especially global missions before they graduate so that they will build a desire to make disciples into their everyday lives as adults. We want to inspire a life of disciple-making now, as teens, to light a fire in their heart for lost people. You may be asking, “why global missions though? There are lost people here at home.” Global missions pull students out of their routines, plops them down in an unknown context with an unknown language, and forces them to rely on the Holy Spirit to lead them in discipling others and sharing the love of Jesus with them.
- It builds- Have you ever tried to build a building and gotten the foundation all wrong? You probably weren’t building very long because the building will fall down at some point without a strong foundation. We want to expose children and students to making disciples at an early age while they are still developing who they will be as adults. If we weave disciple-making and a desire to share the Gospel globally into their fabric before they become adults, they are much more likely to continue to be global disciple-makers as adults.
- It lasts- If we inspire students to be global disciple-makers as teens, they will continue as adults. We know that when we graduate from high school and move away from home that habits are essential. At this point, bad habits are hard to break, and good practices are hard to start. We want to foster the beneficial habit of disciple-making while we, as leaders and parents, have the opportunity to influence the patterns of our teens.
Now, how does this specifically relate to my current ministry context in Enterprise, AL. Henry, my son, sang at our school districts multicultural festival a few weeks ago. While I was at the festival to hear him sing I had the opportunity to learn about the different cultures that we have represented in Enterprise City Schools. However, one little factoid blew my mind. Enterprise City Schools have 38 different people groups from 35 different countries represented in our schools. Let me say that again, 38 people groups from 35 different countries. That fact blew my mind. For parents, you may have one or both of the following concerns…
1. You may think that you don’t have the money to send your student halfway across the globe to do missions.
2. You are worried about the safety of your students on an international mission trip.
However, you really can start making disciples of people from all around the world today just by stepping outside your door and meeting the people around you.