Showing Up and Being There
In High School ministry, one of the most important components of building relationships that administer real grace and true love for students, is consistency. It is not enough for a student to hear “I love you” from a leader or a youth pastor. They need their leaders to be physically present with them and genuinely interested in what they experience on a daily basis. To be honest, most of the ministry’s job is simply “showing up” and “being there”. One of the best ways of building relationships with youth is for them to be confident in knowing that their leaders or pastors are going to be at a specific place at a specific time. For example, when teens come to church on a Wednesday night or Sunday morning, they expect to see the people that have expressed love and interest in them that they so deeply desire. This can be easily done within the four walls of the church because there are pastors and leaders that will always “be there”. At church, the responsibility is put on the student to “show up”; but unlike the pastor, church is not the place where students spend the majority of their time. Most of their current lives are spent in school.
For Cornerstone Youth Ministry, we believe that students are the most spiritually formed in the areas that encompass their lives the most: family and school. It is our philosophy that the relationships we build are not limited to just meeting twice a week in our Cornerstone building, but rather they extend further into the areas where more of our student’s time is spent. In schools specifically, one of the ways that we extend our relationships with students is through campus outreach by partnering with a ministry called Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). FCA is a campus ministry that seeks to reach high school students by sharing the gospel and plugging them into the local church through the avenue of sports. A typical club day on campus involves students meeting at a specific place to be fed free pizza and hear a 10-15 minute sermonette from an FCA leader or local Youth Pastor. Though athletics is their main avenue of attracting students, FCA is not exclusive to those who have no affiliation with sports, or Christianity/church for that matter. This helps create relationships with students who do not go to church or have not heard the gospel and also plants the seed of leading them to the local youth groups!
The reasons why clubs like FCA are so important are numerous, but there is something really special about stepping onto campuses like Wilson, Millikan, Poly, and Los Alamitos – that is seeing our regular, consistent students in their element. Worlds are turned upside down as soon as I walk onto a campus. It is no longer our students taking time out of their schedule to “show up” to our events and activities. Now, it becomes students “being there” on their campuses while I take time out of my busy schedule to “show up”. This is where consistency is at its best in relationships, when the “showing up” and “being there” are married by both parties. Jesus reflects the perfect example of this because He did not sit and wait around for people to come to Him to be disciples. He went out of His way to meet and call people into relationship with Him, even going to places where no one else would go! (The Samaritan Woman, John 4). He calls us to this same standard, to not stay in our comfort zones and wait for people to come to us, but to “Go and make disciples…” (Matt. 28:18). Students can go through hell-fire and brimstone to get to church on Sunday and Wednesday, so why can’t I do the same for them in their schools?
High School Minister