Chuck Schwaninger and I have recently connected on several issues. In one conversation, he mentioned something he got from a friend with SonLife about the spectrum of environments in which our students minister. This was helpful in understanding the risk associated with specific ministry situations and the level of ease for our students engage in ministry.
Ministry training environment
A gradient showing the movement from service or task type events towards ministry to peers.
Risk increases as you move down the spectrum.
- M1. Non peers–execution of projects: task oriented service projects
- For example: car washes, raking leaves, cleaning church, serving food.
- M2. Non peers–being servants to the body
- For example: Jr. church, nursery care, big brother opportunities.
- M3. Non peers–missions trip, sharing our faith on a short term basis
- For example: cross cultural projects, sharing our faith outside of our normal environment, missions projects.
- M4. Ministry to peers–edification: Caring for peers within the body of Christ.
- Implementing fundamental principals with in our ministry, contacting, prayer base, atmosphere.
- M5. Ministry to peers—expansion: Caring for peers outside the body of Christ.
- Caring for our current contacts as Christ would care for them, investing our lives in friendships with unbelievers at school, work , home.
- M6. Ministry to peers–extension: The evangelism and discipleship of those you have a relationship with already.
- Verbalizing our faith with people whom we have existing relationships. Sowing our faith into our everyday conversations.
- M7. Ministry to peers–explosion: The development of new relationships with peers with the opportunity to talk about your faith.
- Purposeful, intentional, interactions with folks in your neighborhood, work place, teams, etc. Intentionality is the key word.
Did you notice that it is easier to share your faith with someone who is not your peer, and it gets harder to do so with your peers? It strikes me that when a student gets involved in our ministry we ask them to go out witnessing with us. With whom? Other freshmen, or even upper classmen. They are engaging at an M6 or M7 level. We encourage them to initiate relationships with their peers and assume that they will share their faith with them. Most of us fail to see how ministry to peers is so difficult for the young believer.
Katrina relief was an easier environment to involve students in ministry. They start at M2 or M3. A Big Break experience for many of our students really helps to give them a heart for sharing their faith. When they see God use them at M3 they gain the confidence to go back to, say an M6, and share with their friends.
Why not consider taking some young students to a campus where you would like to launch a ministry? Though it takes time to create such opportunities, we may want to think about how to find those M3 places for our students. Ministry on another campus where there is less risk for the student starting out could help us develop a heart for evangelism in them and we could make progress toward reaching our scope.