It is crazy how two words can bring such a divide, but “It’s August!” can do it. You will have some students ready to tackle a new school year, while others are dreading every moment. The teachers in your congregation may be feeling some of the same things. As a student ministry worker or youth pastor, “It’s August!” means there are some great ministry opportunities just around the corner.
Our job is to help our students prepare for the days ahead, whether they want to go back or not. Our students need to understand that school time is a great equalizer. Even for those who homeschool, “school time” provides more time to interact with others and, in turn, more opportunities to share Jesus. With just a few group times before school kicks off, now is the time to invest in your students and share encouragement with them. But how do we do that? How do we help our students as they step back into their greatest mission field?
Here are some things to keep in mind:
• Prepare and equip them. Your students are reentering a very secular world. They may have spent the summer with their youth group and at church camp, but that doesn’t change the environment they are about to go back into. They will face adults who are secular in their thinking in addition to classmates. Your students need the firm foundation of God’s Word to stand on as they face worldly concepts and ideas. If they don’t have that foundation, be ready to answer their questions and provide them answers as they navigate school. We also want them to be ready to share Jesus with their friends, classmates and teachers. That means we need to equip them with the tools they need.
• Challenge them. There is a need for us to challenge our students to live differently than those they share a classroom and halls with, and we need to challenge them to live holy lives that will honor God. We should be encouraging them to make choices before they are faced with tempting situations. Besides living holy lives, we should encourage our students to live on mission. Are they sharing Jesus with their friends? Are they inviting people to church? There are opportunities that can be life-altering. Are we encouraging students to do the hard stuff for Christ?
• Commission them. As we send students back into the classrooms, we need to step beyond simple encouragement. We need to pray over them and commission them as they reenter their mission field. Every conversation and interaction is an opportunity to hold up Christ in a dark place. Let’s pray for our students and send them out with purpose.
School time can be stressful. However, with God’s help, our students can go forward with strength and purpose. Let’s be their cheerleaders and coaches as they get back into the game.