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Preparing for the End Game

By Cody Thomas January 11, 2021

I am a big fan of the Marvel movies, so much that my wife occasionally makes fun of me. The newest movie in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), ENDGAME, got me thinking about the end game(s) in Student Ministry. This blog is not at all about Marvel, but like a good Marvel fan, I’ll throw in some Marvel Easter Eggs. We’re in the end game now …

For a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, the end game is our hope. For the believer, the end is what we look forward to, it’s what we sing about, it’s what we live for, and it’s what we die for. The end game for the believer … eternity with Jesus! The end for the believer is the glorification of the believer … living out eternity with and in the glory of the Lord. The end will be glorious BUT what about the end games we face here on Earth? What about the Student Ministry end games? 

There are two Student Ministry end games we need to talk about. These two end games will happen in your Student Ministry and how you prepare for them really matters. Just as we prepare for end game of eternity, we ought to prepare for these Student Ministry end games. The first end game within Student Ministry is when your high school seniors graduate. 

You don’t want your high school graduates to stick around the Student Ministry forever, you want (I hope) for them to leave and go make disciples. You desire for them to live out the gloriousness of Jesus Christ outside the Student Ministry in the “real world”. How you prepare them to live out their faith in the “real world” when their end game happens, really matters and is vitally important. I don’t have all the answers for this end game. We know that most students who graduate from the Student Ministry do NOT continue to follow Jesus in college, so how can we prepare them for the battle ahead to live for Jesus? As you cast a vision for your graduating seniors, here are a few suggestions you might want to focus on:

  • Teach your students strong doctrine and how it applies to their lives. This shouldn’t be a systematic theology class, but rather it should be a “practical theology” class. This is done over and over again in your student ministry. If you give a Bible study and there is no clear action students ought to take, rethink your Bible study. 
    • How does the trinity affect their lives? What is justification and why do they need it? What is the Great Commission and how do we practically carry it out? What is sin and why is it harmful? How to follow Jesus in a sinful world?
  • Teach your students life. Life with Jesus is beautiful and joyful but is also extremely challenging. Teach your students real life issues and how to combat them in the name of Jesus. Don’t be afraid to talk about depression, anxiety, abuse, self-harm, and other big-time life issues. As you teach about life, prepare your students for temptations. Temptations in the here and now, as well as temptations to come (in the end game). 
    • What does scripture teach about depression? How does a person control their anxieties and follow Jesus? What does a life totally surrendered to Jesus look like? What temptations will your students face in college? How are they to have victory over those temptations? What’s the relationship between giving in to temptations and grace?
  • Teach the disciplines of the faith. Let’s get real just for a second, reading and studying God’s Word is NOT difficult. We don’t need any cute little acronyms to help us read and study God’s Word. The typical student in your Student Ministry does Math, English, Science, and all those other classes on a daily basis … if they can do Algebra, they can surely study God’s Word. We ought to teach the JOY of studying God’s Word as we teach how to study God’s Word. 
    • What is prayer? What have been your personal struggles with prayer? How do you study God’s Word? Does amount of time matter when living out the disciplines of the faith? What is fasting and why is it needed today? What ministries are out there that will help you follow Christ after high school?
  • Build Community within the Body of Christ. Students need to know that the body of Christ is there to help them follow Christ. Students need to feel accepted within the body of Christ and find their place as a member. Church and/or Student Ministry should NOT be a place we just come to and then leave, it’s a community of believers that build one another up. Students are looking for a place to call “home”, is your church set up for them to do that? 
    • How does your Student Ministry build community within the larger body of Christ? How can the adults in your church connect with the Student Ministry? Is your Student Ministry accepting of everyone?

This is not a four-step process that is guaranteed for success. We cannot force a student to follow Christ post-graduation, our role is to be obedient. Those four suggestions are areas were we really ought to be intentional in preparing students for their end game from the Student Ministry.

The second Student Ministry end game is your personal ministry. Seriously, what is going to happen to the Student Ministry you lead when you leave. Maybe you are like me and you are not planning on leaving anytime soon, GREAT but what if you meet Jesus sooner than you expected (that’s the first end game we talked about)? For this personal ministry end game, I have questions and no answers:

  1. Are you raising up leaders that could potentially take your place?
  1. Who OR what is at the center of the Student Ministry?
  1. Are you pointing students to yourself OR are you pointing students to Jesus

Student Pastors ASSEMBLE 

This blog was originally posted on https://shepherdingstudents.com/.

About the Author

Cody Thomas

Cody Thomas is the Youth Pastor at First Baptist Church in Franklinton, LA. He is passionate about leading teenagers to know and experience Jesus. Cody is married to the love of his life, Mallory, and they currently have two beautiful daughters. Cody has served in student ministry for many years and is looking forward to…  Read More