General Ministry
Josh Griffin

The start of the new school year has meant that the process of reintroducing myself to our local high school’s Administrators has begun as I re-explain my motives and purpose for visiting the high schools. It is a lot of work, but the fruit that comes of it is immeasurable. Here are 3 reasons why we do it.

Encouragement & Support: Showing up at a high school, walking down the hallway and remembering a students name is a powerful thing to them. You are telling them that they matter. They might be having a bad day, but you arriving on their turf, just to visit, can provide a huge boost. Pulling them aside and praying for them or just being interested in what is happening says a lot to a student that feels invisible in a school of 2000+ people (this is assuming that every youth goes to a school of 2000+). Talk about being like Christ, showing up where people are at, in their school. It’s really enjoyable to see students in “their natural environment”

Connection: Showing up in the school gives me face time with students I would likely never have the opportunity to spend time with, and for a student that has not shown up at our program for a few weeks, it might be an opportunity to reconnect, check in, and find out what is going on. Perhaps there is something they need prayer about. Just this week, I went to a local school to meet up with a student that was struggling to transition into High School I met up with her and happened to bump into another student (God moment) who just moved here and was in the same boat. We hung out, ate lunch, they swapped numbers, and the rest, well, we’ll see…..

Conversation Catalyst: We do not hand anything out while visiting school, nor do we invite anyone to our youth group because that is not my role. My absolute favorite bi-product of visiting the high schools is that I will often meet groups of two or three of our students and inevitably one or two of their friends who are not connected to the Church. We shoot the breeze, talk about their weeks, how school is going etc., give them a high five, and that’s it. But what happens after is incredible, because afterwards I often here, these words.

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“Who was that?”

“Oh, that’s my Youth Pastor, Geoff”

“Youth Pastor? You go to church?”

“Yeah, I do……..

I don’t always know where those conversations go, if they end quickly or carry on, but I do know that many friends of students that I met have started attending our youth group, gotten connected, and given their lives to Christ.

Visiting the high schools can be time consuming, and for some really intimidating, but what an encouragement we can be to students, and from what I have seen even help important conversations about God happen, just by being there. Make time for it. It’s incredibly important to be in the schools if they are willing to let us in.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.

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  • David says:

    Any recommendations for those in communities where high schools do not allow you on campus? I try to go to a lot of games/plays/etc instead.

  • Geoff Stewart says:


    Great question – first off I am assuming that you have pursued the option to visit but the schools have shut you down. We had a school that for the past year had us on the non-permitted list until we sat down last week and chatted about it and here is what we did with that school.

    1- Visited beside the campus, on sunny days I would text the students and tell them I was by the school and to come by.
    2 – Go where they go for Lunch, McDonalds, 7-11 etc. I have texted students and told them I would buy them a slurpee if they met me at 7-11
    3- Volunteer – we help out with the band, serving them during their school functions, set up and tear down.
    4- Follow up, follow up, follow up – I hounded the Principal for the past nine months, emails, voicemails, check in messages just so I was front of mind. When we met, I sold her on the first two points of this post and provided a list of 50 students that go to her school that we have adult leaders / mentors for. I suggested that she could use that list to give to the school councillors so that if there was an issue we could help speak into that we would help with that.

    David, I am praying for you, this is really powerful stuff and persistance can pay off.


  • Benjamin Spears says:

    Great post! It’s always a good sign when your teens are happy to see you on their turf. I remember one time one of my fringe teens actually tried to hide from me in the hallway so that he wouldn’t have to answer questions about who I was and how he knew me. Of course, that just made me ramp up my excitement to see him all the more!

  • Geoff Strewart says:

    Totally Benjamin,

    I tell our students that if you are not ready to come out of the Christian Closet at school, I am okay with that and if they pretend they never saw me, I am just fine with that too. I understand not every student is ready to share their faith. I will also never shout out to a student that would be freaked out by doing that.

    Play it cool!

  • Brad Haggard says:

    This is an important post, because I don’t understand how we as student ministers can actually think we are getting to know our students without visiting them. It’s just as important for us to know what happens on any given day in a high school to keep our teaching relevant.

    If we don’t, there are plenty of organizations already in the schools vying for our students attention.

  • David says:

    Thanks Geoff,
    I haven’t pursued it this year because we had been shut down in the past. Though as a Young Life leader for our community I was able to get on campus because that was less “church seeming” to them. Our students cannot go off campus for lunch either. The high schools in town seem to be more on lock down mode. To use YL wording, contact work is vital to ministry. It can happen on campus and off, but going to their turf is huge.

  • David says:

    Another way I got around this too was I started substitute teaching.. which is a way to see students and get paid at the same time. Though I always came home wiped out.

  • Geoff Stewart says:

    David you are a legend, substitute teaching! Nice job, I met a guy just last week who is the lunch time hall monitor at his local high school, sounds nerdy but what a great in. I am going to write about the process of getting in and how we did it in the next week or so and I am hoping that it helps some people out.

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