EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is drawn from several student ministry articles featured in the current issue of Texas Baptist Crossroads magazine. The more detailed articles in Crossroads deal with a shift in how churches disciple and minister to students and offer advice for churches transitioning to a home-based student ministry.
The statistics are stunning: Southern Baptists are baptizing a steadily decreasing number of students, and droves of them?about 60 percent?are leaving the church after graduating from high school.
The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention staff isn’t letting the numbers numb them; they’ve been busy writing curricula, planning events and organizing think tanks to equip parents and youth ministers with biblical strategies and responses to the alarming mass departure.
Morevover, the SBTC is offering resources redefining the youth minister’s role, tapping parents as partners in student ministry, and even mobilizing other students to reach their communities and peers for Christ.
Intersecting the Christian home and youth ministry, SBTC staffers developed the “Home-Based Student Ministry” (HBSM) curriculum, which has two key components:
?Engage parents as primary Bible teachers for their children.
?Release student ministers to provide service and leadership opportunities for students.
Bookending the HBSM is a five-session, DVD-based discipleship study course for parents titled “Inheritance: Passing Down a Legacy of Faith to Our Children.” The study entails four video teaching sessions complete with printable PDF documents, a leader’s guide, home Bible study materials, and other resources for a complete, user-friendly package. Retailing at $69.95, Inheritance materials may be ordered at planetstudents.org. SBTC-affiliated churches receive a 20 percent discount.
Anticipating young adults’ transition to college and career?when they are most prone to drop out of church life?the SBTC staff is forming a web-based resource enabling parents and young adults to find viable churches and other ministries the young adults can plug into upon arriving in their new locales. SBTC Church Ministries Associate Ken Lasater will gather insights at the upcoming Student Leaders’ Escape, Oct 5-7, at the Highland Lakes Center in Spicewood.
The SL Escape is a think-tank laboratory meeting, combining ideas and information to develop workable strategies to strengthen the church-student connection.
“There’ll be no keynote speakers to give us education from their viewpoint,” said Lasater, who invites all interested parties to attend. See sbtexas.com/slescape for additional information or to register.
Training new church leaders
Another disturbing statistic is the amount of time churches invest each week in training students for church leadership roles?on average fewer than 15 minutes.
“That means we’re in great need of developing the right kind of leaders for the future: those who are skilled, prepared and committed for the long haul,” Lasater noted.
The SBTC’s answer is two-fold: Summer Worship University (SWU)?focusing on developing worship skills?and Student Leadership Training (SLT) covering other areas of church leadership. SWU classes include vocal and instrumental music, creative arts, and technical media. SLT classes offer training in student ministry, missions, public speaking, teaching, preaching, general church leadership and church recreation and fellowship.
Registrations for the July 13-18 SWU and SLT camps at Schreiner University in Kerrville received by May 1, $235; and after May 1, $265. Fees include all materials, a learner’s syllabus, a shirt, meals, lodging and conferences and all fees