It’s football season! Life doesn’t get much better than this. And as a Youth Pastor, I love getting out on Friday nights for our High School’s home football games. It is a fantastic way for me to connect with so many of our students and parents who are spectators in the crowd and to support our students who are on the football team, cheerleading and dance squads, and marching band. It’s been a great way for me to do incarnational ministry. Simply put, incarnational ministry is taking any and every opportunity I can to get into my students’ world and be a presence in their lives outside of our weekly youth group activities.
As I’ve taken advantage of the opportunities to get into the lives of our students through High School football, I have had 3 key learnings, 2 outreach/evangelism ideas, and 1 really good time figuring it all out.
- I have learned which students are excited to see me outside of church, on their turf. I get excited about seeing these kids because they are excited to see me. I love that they introduce me to their friends and talk about going to church. It has helped me identify which students are willing to talk about their faith, or are at least close to that place in life.
- I have also learned which students would prefer not to see me outside of church, especially on their turf. You need thick skin to endure this one. I have actually been saddened by some students who talk a good game on Sundays and Wednesdays, but literally have seen me at the football games and go running the other direction. I’ve assumed that if they want to avoid me on their campus, they also avoid talking about or eluding to Jesus and their faith.
- Unchurched kids are receptive to spiritual conversations and things related to church, especially if you make it fun. This key learning has been reinforced by the first outreach/evangelism idea I share below.
- This first idea is one we have implemented at the football games this season. We partnered up with a local Chick-fil-A and stapled a coupon for a free food item to a quarter-sheet flyer about our High School worship service. We then gave the pairing to several of our students (the 1st kind I talked about above), who then frantically gave them away to their friends. It was cool to see kids excited about free food but also asking our students about our worship service on Sunday mornings. In a few cases, it allowed our students to start spiritual conversations with their classmates.
- We have been fortunate to take the opportunity to host 2 of our High School football team’s dinners on Thursday evenings. This opportunity brings several unchurched students into our church building, allows them to encounter several of our adult volunteers who are there to serve them and love on them, and it gives me the opportunity to share a devotion – the Gospel – with the football players and coaches.
Bottom line, entering into the lives of our students using High School football has given us great opportunities to be relational with our students, their friends, and has allowed us to promote our Student Ministry and advance the Gospel!
What are different ways that you enter into the lives of your students on their campuses? Do you have other ideas we could consider to promote our Student Ministry and engage the lost in spiritual conversations at the football games? What are things we could have our students do to encourage them to share their faith?