Several years ago, God gave our church a great vision of seeing 1,000 churches planted in our lifetime. That’s a pretty lofty goal, God-sized if you will. The thing I love about that vision? It’s not gimmicky or a fad. It’s woven into the very fabric and DNA of who we are as a church, and it drives much of our ministry philosophy.
Big goal. Big vision. But where will the leaders of those churches come from?
My conviction? They are sitting in our small groups in middle and high school ministry right now. I think many of those leaders are just starting to grasp the beauty of the gospel in Summit Kids right now. I think some of those leaders are actually apart from Christ, walking the hallways of our local schools and in some of your homes not yet redeemed. That’s why our Family Ministry team labors on the front lines alongside our families. That’s what keeps me up at night.
You see, God has given the local church the task of being the one who will make known the manifold wisdom of God among the nations (Ephesians 3:10.) That’s why we plant churches. That’s also why our ministries among the next generation have developed a pipeline to work towards that end. And it’s happening.
Here are a few thoughts/encouragement for you as you seek to raise the “sending capacity” within your ministry at your church:
- Don’t settle for easy: It’s easy to assume that your students aren’t interested in being a part of planting a church. Stop assuming. Raise the bar. Make the ask. Plan accordingly. We’ve asked students to consider studying overseas or study at a university near one of our church plants (assuming it has a degree they actually want to use), and we give our Juniors/Seniors an opportunity to live overseas for almost an entire summer alongside our church planters. We realized early on that it wasn’t enough to just “dream about these things” and hope they got excited about it. That’s the easy part. We actually had to put the plow to the ground to do the hard work of getting our students in the pipeline. It took a while, but the payoff is huge.
- Cast the Vision. We tell our students constantly that we long to see God raise some of them up to go plant churches in the States or possibly overseas. When they graduate high school from your ministry, there should be no question in their mind that they know we want them to consider giving a few years of their lives to God’s global mission. We drip that vision through our artwork on the walls, the opportunities we provide for them, the conversations we have in small groups to some of the sermons we preach in our gatherings with students. Cast the vision.
- Equip them with Easy On-Ramps: It’s not enough to simply invest in the students and cast a vision for them, but you must give them an outlet to lead and to serve. Let them get their hands dirty. Get your students out of the church building and onto the streets. Find local partners and organizations to get in the trenches with if your church hasn’t identified them yet. Show up to a local school and ask what their needs are…and start meeting those needs. Equipping them isn’t always giving them the right knowledge, but more often than not it’s giving them the outlet for right practice.
I can’t wait to see what God does with this current generation of students who will soon be the leaders in our society and pastors of our churches. Keep pressing on in the gospel. Keep raising the bar. Keep dreaming God size dreams for the Kingdom of God.