Philosophy of Ministry
Our Goal: The Profile of a Maturing Christian Student
A maturing Christian student understands and believes the gospel message.
This is the core of Christianity, to know and believe the gospel. This is a necessary component to growth, because it is only with a clear understanding of the gospel that the student will have a proper grasp of the magnitude of sin, their identity in Christ and their relationship to the Father. A balanced understanding of the gospel must be fostered to protect against an overemphasis on grace which can lead to an apathetic attitude towards sin, and an overemphasis on works which can lead to a legalistic approach to our relationship with God.
A maturing Christian student has a working knowledge of the Scriptures.
I believe very strongly that the Bible must be the foundation of the student’s faith. This is where ultimate authority lies, and their ability to understand and interpret the Word is the vessel through which real life change occurs.
A maturing Christian student seeks out the community of other gospel believers.
Accepting the gospel message means that we are no longer alone, but are a part of the family of God. A maturing student will have a love for their brothers and sister who can spur them on towards love and good deeds.
A maturing Christian student claims the promises of God in their own lives.
One of the most important gifts God has given us to help us through difficult times are His promises. The growing student will learn to identify key promises such as forgiveness, hope, steadfast love, worth in Christ, healing and strength. These promises are to be claimed by the Christian in order to persevere through struggles. One specific way in which this is fostered is through the memorization of the Word.
A maturing Christian student is in communion with God daily by meditating on His word and through prayer.
This is the heartbeat of the Christian walk. It is through the student’s constant connection with God that a real, meaningful and life changing relationship takes place. The mature Christian has a deep love for the Word and truly understands that the Holy Spirit speaks through it. They also desire to spend time in communication with God by giving Him adoration, by confessing sins and other hindrances which have kept them from running hard after God, by giving thanks for the innumerable good gifts God has given them and by asking for God’s guidance and power over the difficulties that this life entails. The student is refreshed by their time with God and is better able to be a minister of the gospel with a healthy relationship with God.
A maturing Christian student recognizes the sin in their own life and is repentant of it.
Sin is, by definition, the exact opposite of living out the gospel. It reveals a heart that is selfish and proud. It is what separates Christians from a perfect relationship with God. The maturing Christian will be actively fighting against areas of sin in their life. This is encouraged to occur in the context of Christian accountability and fellowship, so that the sins can be brought out into the light, confessed and prayed for. One of the greatest signs of a growing Christian is not necessarily how much sin is in their lives, but how much true repentance is seen.
A maturing Christian student gives of their money, time and talents to the advancement of the kingdom of God.
As the student grows in their faith and trust in God, and in their Christian worldview, they will desire to daily give of the gifts that they have been given to the advancement of the gospel. This can take a variety of forms; the giving of money to the church or other ministries, the giving of time to missions, the giving of their talents to the church, or the giving of their time and energy to relational ministry to the lost. These all reveal a heart that has its focus on eternal things, and not on present realities.
A maturing Christian student builds relationships with the lost based on love.
This Christian sees the people around them as dead in their sin and in need of the gospel. They understand deeply the “lostness” of this world and have a deep understanding of the compassion that the God has for those who are lost. This drives the student to their knees in prayer; that the Holy Spirit would be working in and through them to love the world as He loves the world. They grow in their ability to purposefully reach out to those who do not know the gospel and create genuine relationships with these people. While the purpose of these relationships is ultimately as a bridge across which the gospel can travel and be accepted, the love shown to those that are lost is unconditional.
A maturing Christian student is equipped to share the gospel with gentleness and conviction.
While reaching out to and caring about the lost is a great sign of spiritual maturity, a growing Christian must also be equipped to share the gospel. They have thought through their own personal story of salvation, and are able to articulate it in order to show how the gospel message truly brings change to one’s life.
A maturing Christian student desires to share the gospel through caring for the poor and needy.
A true mark of maturity in the life of a Christian is the ability to balance caring for the spiritual needs of people as well as their physical needs. The maturing Christian balances how the gospel is expressed by caring for both the physical and spiritual needs of those around them. They recognize that evil and injustice in this world is not the way it is supposed to be and they pray for and work towards an end to suffering.
1. Students grow best when church is gospel centered.
The church must lead the students by itself being gospel centered. This not only means that the church teaches the gospel, but that its relationships are marked with the love, grace and patience of the gospel.
2. Students grow best when their parents are actively living out the gospel themselves.
The church must be intentionally reaching out and equipping parents on how to raise growing Christians. They must be challenged to be leaders in their student’s lives by being open with their relationship with God, and encouraging their children to look to them as spiritual leaders.
3. Students grow best when the Bible is taught and understood.
The Bible must be the final authority which is taught in the church. The Scriptures must be taught through appropriate exegesis, contextualization, and application to the culture. The church must also teach and model the skills necessary for deep meaningful personal study of the Word. This is done by placing strong emphasis on a pedagogy in which the students learn how to inductively study the Bible. This is accomplished through the inductive teaching of the Word, through bible study in a small group setting and through one on one discipleship relationships.
4. Students grow best when they are in fellowship with other growing believers.
The Lord has left us His Body here on earth not only to reach the world with His message of salvation, but also to encourage and spur on the individual believer. The church must cultivate these relationships by creating an environment in which believers treat each other as true brothers and sisters.
5. Students grow best when they are mentored by Godly men and women.
The mentor relationship is, quite possibly, the greatest area of weakness in most churches, and yet it is crucial for the personal growth and development of students. Mentors would be trained on how to make the most of their time with students, and students would be paired up with people they are willing and excited to meet with. These relationships allow the student to see what a true growing (and not perfect) relationship to God looks like, so the mentors must be believers who are growing (but not perfect!).
6. Students grow best when the daily disciplines of communication with God are taught and modeled.
The student’s relationship with God is the most precious and important relationship they have. In order for a church to successfully impact students, they must focus on teaching and modeling a daily walk with God. This is done primarily in the small group context and within mentor relationships.
7. Students grow best when they are accountable to and share life with other believers.
Small groups are crucial to the development of Christian students. These relationships will help the student confront areas of sin in their lives though confession and accountability. They will also cultivate awareness that we are all responsible for the faiths of our brothers and sisters, and that our relationship with God affects one another.
8. Students grow best when the church provides an outlet to use their specific gifts and talents to advance the gospel.
Students need to be involved in the church body. God has gifted them with special skills and abilities, and the church has a responsibility to cultivate and use those gifts.
9. Students grow best when they internalize God’s love for the world.
Students must be challenged by the love that God has for the world. They must be challenged to reach out side themselves and the church in order to truly love the world around them. They must be given opportunities to see and experience the suffering of the world, and then to process God’s response to that suffering.
10. Students grow best when they are actively sharing their faith with those around them.
All Christians are called to make disciples, and the only way to do that is to go into the world and share the fullness of the gospel with others. They must be given tools which help them explain the gospel message in a culturally sensitive way (bridge illustration, 4 laws, “your story, my story, His story”).
11. Students grow best when the church empowers them to make a difference in the world by caring for those who are suffering.
The church must provide outreach opportunities for the students which help them to see the power that they have through the Holy Spirit to change the world. These can be short term mission’s trips or long term relationships with outreach ministries in the area of the church.
12. Students grow best when they feel included and loved.
One of the greatest challenges facing students today is the lack of meaningful relationships. This causes the students to feel lonely and disconnected. The church must be a place where students feel welcomed, included and loved. They must experience the unconditionality of the love that God has for us within their relationships as the church.
13. Students grow best in an environment that is safe.
Safety is of utmost importance when dealing with students. They must feel safe so that they will open their lives up and be willing to go through the difficult process of change that takes place during the Christian walk. Safety must be shown in the steadfastness of the leaders, the confidentiality of small groups and the way in which we joke and talk about each other. Even the games that are played affect the feeling of safety that a church must have.
14. Students grow best when they are being prayed for.
Real change and growth only comes by the power of the Holy Spirit, so the church must be praying for the students. This must be done not only by those who are directly ministering to the students, but also by the parents and other church members.