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How to start a campus ministry in your local schools

Don't miss the best opportunity your church has to reach the students in your community. Here are some tips for starting a campus ministry.

“If you want to catch fish, go where the fish are,” the old saying goes. So, if you care about reaching this generation, where’s the best place to go? Local school campuses.

Years ago, I attended a school club and sat next to a kid named Cameron who was not a Christian. I introduced myself, gave him a flyer for a worship night, and he said, “Yeah, I think I’d like to come.”

He came to that event and pretty much never left. He attended youth group for years and ended up coming with me and my family when we moved to another city, and he became one of our greatest youth leaders.

Years later, I found out that when I first met him, Cameron was in one of the darkest times of his life. He was alone, depressed, and searching for meaning and friendship. On that day, the Lord used a campus ministry flyer and my simple invite to forever change the path of Cameron’s life.

It may seem simple, but connecting with your local public school can have a profound impact on the lives of young people. For the price of some pizza and a small investment of time, you could save the next Cameron from a trajectory of depression and loneliness.

Christian clubs provide light in one of the darkest places on the planet. With all the bullying, fighting, gossiping and name calling that is present on campus, Christian clubs remind students (even if they don’t attend) that Jesus is present at their schools, and can help them identify some of the Christian teachers on campus.

A lot of people get intimidated by campus ministry, but it’s really not as hard as you might think. If the schools around you already have clubs, the best advice I could give you is to contact the teacher in charge (their email is usually listed on the school website) and ask them if you can come hang out and help in any way needed. As time goes on, you will build trust and relationships, and pretty soon you will be informally known as the campus pastor. If a traumatic event ever happens on campus, you will be the first one they call.

If the schools around you don’t have clubs yet, get one started. All it really takes is a teacher who is willing to sponsor it and a couple students who are willing to run it, as most clubs of this type are supposed to be primarily student run. Figure out a time and place to have the club. Then, advertise your first club meeting with free pizza, and watch the room fill up. While some kids will only come for the pizza, at least everyone will know about the club, and you’re off to a great start.

The beauty of Christian clubs is that they open the door to ministry far beyond a small group of students in a classroom. Because clubs are sanctioned by the school, they are able to access school facilities and resources, hand out flyers, hold events, and make an impact on campus as well as in the larger community.

Clubs I’ve helped with have sponsored teacher appreciation events, concerts, dodgeball tournaments, human trafficking awareness rallies, anti-drug campaigns, food and backpack drives, and more. I’ve said it many times to our clubs: “We don’t care if we’re the coolest club on campus, but hopefully we can be the kindest.”

There’s no better time than now to get involved with students in your community. If you have any specific questions about how to start a Christian club on a local campus, feel free to email me here.

is associate pastor of Crescent City Foursquare Church in Crescent City, Calif.
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