Youth Ministry And The School Campus

The Conversation Begins

With the 2015 school year starting up again the next few weeks, the discussion about the presence of the church on public school campuses will begin. And because not every teenager will go off to college, many people have called the middle and high school campus 'the last tribal stop' of our young people. The place where we can find this group gathered together in sub-groups for the last time before adulthood. Maybe the final place the church can reach these students with the gospel. And because of this, I have challenged Youth Leaders to see the school campus as a primary mission field and not a secondary one.

Too often I have heard Youth Leaders say that their middle school or high school is closed to the gospel and the youth ministry is not allowed on campus. However, I have yet to see a closed campus in my 31 years of youth ministry. Sure, on some campuses (because of the administration, or, because of the issues of former Youth Workers) Youth Leaders may not be able to have a Bible study or prayer meeting at lunch in the cafeteria. But, there are so many other ways to get on campus. 
Unfortunately, what I have heard are Youth Leaders so focused on the office or the coffee shop, their version of outreach is hoping that students show up on Wednesday night at the church. While at the same time young people are asking the church to show up at the public school. 

Practical Campus Theology
God with us. Emmanuel. Incarnate Christ. Solving the problem of the church in culture is really very easy. It doesn't take much creativity. It does, however, take more desire. So, I offer 30+ ways to reach the campus as a Youth Ministry and create a presence in the middle and high school.

  • The best way a Youth Ministry gets on campus is with campus missionaries (training the students who have access daily)
  • Social Media strategies involving school activities
  • Make yourself available to the school for crisis counseling
  • Run for school board or other educational positions in government and local elections
  • Look to get involved in the myriad of extra-curricular activities at school (purchase a season athletic pass, attend plays, concerts, and performances)
  • Find the Christian para-church organizations that are recognized clubs on campus and have a presence or leadership in those ventures
  • Send birthday cards to your students friends and faculty with youth ministry name on it
  • Use seasonal and holiday themes to attend concerts and plays
  • Have students wear youth ministry themed clothing and gear to familiarize the school with your youth ministry at events or daily at school
  • Attending the funerals of youth, school staff, or faculty can build relationships in the school at important times
  • Monitor current events and headlines and be ready to offer lecture, counsel, or intervention
  • Pray publicly at community events where school officials are present (elections or banquets)
  • Involvement in FCA can help access you to many students and staff
  • Use your skill-sets in many different areas:
    • Coaching athletics
    • Choir
    • Band
    • Theatre
    • Officiating
    • Teaching       
  • Use school facilities for a Christian concert or seminar
  • Have your students promote youth group activities or events
  • Encourage youth ministry students to invite the youth pastor to classroom as a guest speaker for a religious or non-religious subject
  • Organize a Super Bowl party and use the school facilities to host it
  • Promote your youth group website on clothing, gear, locker, or book stickers/covers
  • Attend the Young Life, Youth Alive, or other campus student led organizations
  • Organize a 7 Project or Youth Speaker at your school
  • Organize a clean up crew for after football games to sweep the grounds
  • Ask to sing the National Anthem (or youth choir) sing the National Anthem at a game
  • Attend or promote the weekly bible study at your school
  • Offer a place for a class at school to build the Home-Coming float
  • Purchase school t-shirts for a pep rally before an important game (place the youth ministry logo on the shirt)
  • Chaplaincy and Prayer before or after a game
  • Attend See You At The Pole every September

Tests And Prayer

In 1962-1964, as a result of pressure from Madilyn Murray-O'hare and others, prayer and bible reading were removed from U.S. schools. And that's not really a big deal. Because as long as there are tests in school, there will be prayer in school. students are praying and reading their bibles every day on the school campus. However, instead of contributing to the absence of prayer and bible reading on campus, Youth Ministries should be intentional in training campus missionaries and strategic in relationship to the campus. To be honest, if there's a will, there's a way.