Reimagining Extracurriculars

Harnessing Students' Passions for Kingdom Impact

By Matt Klippenstein January 28, 2019

As a youth worker, what would you do to help your students turn their passions and pastimes into fruit-bearing mission fields?

Competition with Extracurriculars

Too often we feel like we’re in competition for our students’ attention and time. Competing with each sport season, theater production, band ensemble, or other extracurricular. Why do we feel this way? God has wired each one of us (and all of our students) with gifts, talents, and passions. But the practices, rehearsals, games, and performances can conflict with our ministry programming, which means we are often missing many of our students.

I used to be frustrated when a student’s passion pulled them away from youth ministry events. Now, I strive to not only encourage them in their passions, but to train and equip them to be a gospel influence as they live into their passions.”

If we foolishly decide to try to make our students choose between their passion and our student ministry…well, the odds aren’t in our favor. However, we shouldn’t be quick to assume that a student’s passion is automatically a hindrance to their spiritual growth. On the contrary, with encouragement, mentoring, and accountability from an adult leader, our students’ passions can have major Kingdom impact.

So how do we do this?

Teaching Students About Their Wiring

I think it starts with explaining to students how our wiring and passions interact with God’s purposes. A student’s God-given passions are ways for them to reach the world around them, a lost world that desperately needs the hope and truth they have to offer. Their passions don’t have to be spiritual; like leading worship or starting bible studies with their peers. Most of the time they’re things like volleyball, fishing, music, gymnastics, basketball, theater, chess, reading, golf, running…the list is as endless as the number of students in the world. And it’s these passions that gives them a reason to belong with a group of spiritually lost students with the same passion.

My passion is volleyball, as both a player and a coach. In Canada, as a pastor, I can’t walk into a school and spend time with students…but as a coach, I can go right into the school, build relationships with students, and speak the gospel into their lives. My passion is what links me to lost students who otherwise may never hear the gospel, and would never enter my church or attend a youth ministry event on their own accord.

Harnessing Students’ Passions for Kingdom Impact

I used to be frustrated when a student’s passion pulled them away from youth ministry events. Now, I strive to not only encourage them in their passions, but to train and equip them to be a gospel influence as they live into their passions, because I know that there is where they will impact the lives of students for the Kingdom in a way no one else will.

We have to remind our students that passion without the gospel has no impact. Our role as youth workers is to train and equip our students to share the gospel and make disciples who make disciples in the context of the passions that God has put on their heart. So, my fellow youth workers, don’t be discouraged by the passions of your youth, or try to compete with them; instead, train and equip your students use their passions as a way to speak and share the gospel!

About the Author

Matt Klippenstein

Matt Klippenstein has served on the pastoral staff at Ness Baptist Church since 2007. He lives with his wife and kids in Winnipeg MB, Canada. Matt’s passion is to train and equip students to be multiplying disciple makers. Matt loves spending time with his family, reading tech blogs, playing sports, coaching volleyball, and cheering on the…  Read More