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Middle School

Kurt Johnston leads the student ministries team at Saddleback Church in Southern California. His ministry of choice, however, is junior high, where he spends approximately 83.4% of his time.

represent

So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us.
We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”
                                                                      2 Corinthians 5:20

I’ve been noodling a lot lately on trying to come up with a realistic, biblical, attractive way to help junior highers (and any teenager for that matter) live out their faith and share it with their friends. At Saddleback, we’ve always had what we call a “friendship evangelism” model of outreach that relies on our students confidently sharing their story and the gospel of Jesus Christ to those around them. As we have begun thinking about re-tooling how we teach students to share the gospel, it’s obvious that there are two prominent approaches:

1) Always be ready, in fact look for, opportunities to talk to people about Jesus. Seek out such divine appointments!
2) Be Salt and Light. Let your good deeds, attitudes, love for others etc. be so obvious that people will be drawn to Christ through that lifestyle.

Very rarely, it seems, are students taught a healthy mix of the two…that these two strategies are both extremely valid on their own, but actually work better in unison. Which is why I think I’m landing on the wonderful picture we are given in scripture of our role as ambassadors….Christ’s representatives.

Ambassadors both “speak up” and “show up”. As representatives of their country, they must know when their role is mostly to do things (show up) that represent their nation well, and when they must say things (speak up) to represent, defend or advance agendas of their country.

What if we figured out a way to help students embrace the idea of truly being ambassadors for Jesus Christ? What if we equipped them to “Show Up” and “Speak Up” and helped them begin to discern when to do which?

I’d love your thoughts, ideas and input. There’s nothing new about the concept of “Christ’s Ambassadors” but maybe it’s time to freshen up an old classic.

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  • Leneita Fix Leneita Fix says:

    Kurt,

    First of all since I live with a JH youth group, (6, 7, 8, 9 grade in my house right now) I appreciate all of your posts as a parent. This is a concept we talk about often, and always. How do we talk about our faith while stepping up to show the world who we are with Him on a regular basis. I think this is a hard concept for many because it is a constant conversation first of all. Second, of all the essence of JH is to avoid embarrassment and to be liked at all costs. So navigating all of the cultural bombs out there that may cause them to stand out (choosing to act different than the world) may cause them to be less popular than others. HOWEVER! It is also letting them see when they do SHOW UP (As my 7th grade son who collects shoes for Haitians and then gets them to the country people there, and is going to go to pass them out himself next Spring)- they can move powerfully for Jesus. My husband and I tell our kids all the time if you Speak Up and Show Up at 11,12, 13, 14- then How will Christ use you at 16-19-40….They will outshine our faith and that is tremendous!!

  • Leneita Fix Leneita Fix says:

    Kurt,

    First of all since I live with a JH youth group, (6, 7, 8, 9 grade in my house right now) I appreciate all of your posts as a parent. This is a concept we talk about often, and always. How do we talk about our faith while stepping up to show the world who we are with Him on a regular basis. I think this is a hard concept for many because it is a constant conversation first of all. Second, of all the essence of JH is to avoid embarrassment and to be liked at all costs. So navigating all of the cultural bombs out there that may cause them to stand out (choosing to act different than the world) may cause them to be less popular than others. HOWEVER! It is also letting them see when they do SHOW UP (As my 7th grade son who collects shoes for Haitians and then gets them to the country people there, and is going to go to pass them out himself next Spring)- they can move powerfully for Jesus. My husband and I tell our kids all the time if you Speak Up and Show Up at 11,12, 13, 14- then How will Christ use you at 16-19-40….They will outshine our faith and that is tremendous!!

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