The transition from local church youth ministry to school chaplaincy moved me into my first continuous work with young people who didn’t go to church, weren’t interested in anything religious, and who had some serious questions about God, the Church and Christianity in general. It felt a little like I had been shifted out from the training grounds right into the middle of a warzone. At the time I felt ill equipped to deal with the hostility, the questions and a culture which with some rationality, had dismissed the notion of a need for God. This was my first introduction to school mission work.
Working now with the Independent Schools around South Africa and conducting week long missions has opened my eyes to the necessity for us in youth work to engage with those young people who wouldn’t set foot in a church. The need is real and if we are to be about leading young people to know (and walk with) Jesus we need to put ourselves amidst the market square of their thoughts, ideas and questions. The questioning classroom environment has required my growth in the art of apologetics and distilling what I believe to its core; but primarily it has reaffirmed my belief in the power of the Gospel story.
A typical mission would include taking chapels / assemblies, classes, voluntary session, and specialised training with leaders. Within these avenues it has always been evident how the simple telling of the story of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead, can pierce through every question, selfish desire, dismissive thought, and prideful barrier to transform a heart to be given to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
It is a challenging ministry environment and often I feel inadequate. However, this is where the heat of the battle is and a battle which our King desires us to run to in the hope of turning a generation for the Kingdom.