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Missional Youth Ministry: Making an Impact in Public Schools

missional youth ministry

Missional youth ministry helps students see how they can live out the gospel and be missionaries in their day-to-day lives. As part of that movement, youth leaders need to take student ministries off the church campus as much as possible.

In our book Get Out, my son Josh and I talk about the importance of getting on school campuses to make an impact for Christ. Let’s face it: The public school may be the greatest mission field in America. But it’s also one of the most closed in our land. In most places, the day of a youth pastor showing up with pizzas to eat lunch with students is over.

Effective missional youth ministry targets the whole community, not just the teens attending your church. That outreach mindset places the public school in a vital place for ministry.

Missional Youth Ministry: Tips for Public-School Outreach

Follow these important tips for ministering at public schools:

1. Go through the first door that opens on campus.

After you’ve met administrators, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Young Life or something similar may be the widest door. These organizations welcome student pastors with open arms. They’re always looking for speakers and prayer partners to join them.

2. Practice the funnel principle everywhere on campus.

Pastor Matt Lawson taught me this principle, and I want to pass it along. A funnel is wide at the top and narrow at the bottom.

Funnel, Part 1

When we enter a school, the first person we meet is the receptionist, or the funnel’s widest part. That person holds the keys to the school. The receptionist is key!

We sign in with the receptionist and say who we’re there to see and why. We see that person when we sign out later. (Side note: And we dress like adults, not like overgrown adolescents.) Essentially, if you don’t have a good relationship with the receptionist, you probably won’t have a great relationship with the rest of the school.

Be honest and follow the rules when you meet the receptionist. That person will greatly appreciate it, and if all else fails, you can at least be a blessing.

Funnel, Part 2

The second layer of the funnel is the principal, teachers, and coaches. This also includes the band director. If you serve them, you’ll gain an opportunity to meet students.

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Alvin L. Reid (born 1959) serves as Professor of Evangelism and Student Ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he has been since 1995. He is also the founding Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism. Alvin and his wife Michelle have two children: Joshua, a senior at The College at Southeastern, and Hannah, a senior at Wake Forest Rolesville High School. Recently he became more focused at ministry in his local church by being named Young Professionals Director at Richland Creek Community Church. Alvin holds the M.Div and the Ph.D with a major in evangelism from Southwestern Seminary, and the B.A. from Samford University. He has spoken at a variety of conferences in almost every state and continent, and in over 2000 churches, colleges, conferences and events across the United States.