This post was written by Andy McLean (Editor of The Gospel Project for Students). To see the entire series click here.
In 1964 Bob Dylan released a hit song titled “The Times They Are a-Changin.” While this was certainly true back then, the same could be said for the times our students live in today. It doesn’t take long for one to determine after a brief look around that the current times in which our students are living is something quite different from previous years. Sure, the “spirit of the age” looks the same – in the sense that ethical and religious relativism still reigns in the public square and marketplace – but the current times expresses this cultural spirit in ways that are unique to this generation. Part of the uniqueness involves the massive cultural shift towards globalization and information expansion that has taken place in the timespan of one generation.
Students are no longer exposed to competing worldviews and values in their own classroom or in the locker room, but also now the competing ones coming through their laptops, smartphones, and iPods. I’m not saying this as an attempt at providing a study on our cultural and political landscape, nor is it meant to be a shock-and-awe way of illustrating the type of world our students live in. Rather, the point is simply this: as with every time period and every generation, the unique challenges that our students face today underscore the importance of equipping this generation with a biblical worldview that they can build their lives upon as they internalize the gospel.
Of course, having our students internalize the gospel and grow deeper in their commitment to Christ should be a given in student ministry – after all that is the very fruit we want to see! However, you know all too well that witnessing fruit like this comes by far too infrequently. There are a number of reasons for this – one being the simple reality that the amount of time we, as ministers, are able to minister to our students is astoundingly low in comparison to other things in their daily schedule that compete for their attention.
In my own experience, I remember students that, for whatever reason, I was only able to interact with for an hour each week. In fact, because television, Internet, friends, sports, schoolwork – pretty much everything besides me – was able to have more opportunities (in terms of time percentage) to influence their worldview, I came to miss my former profession of teaching at a private school where my opportunities for ministry tripled by the sheer amount of time I had with students. In the church context, time was a precious commodity that I was competing for against so many other things. And if intentional discipleship is one of your main goals, then being intentional about the time you are given becomes an additional responsibility as you seek to shepherd the hearts of students. In fact, this is the very reason why being intentional about your summer months and not wasting them becomes a tremendous opportunity for potential ministry.
One way to state the importance of redeeming the summer for student discipleship is by thinking of the Greek words chronos and kairos. Chronos refers to the concept of time understood in a linear fashion – time understood and experienced in the day to day, week to week, month to month, etc. Kairos, on the other hand, also refers to time, but not in the same way. Time for kairos refers to a specific moment in time and/or a quality of time. It refers to a special moment or period of time within time, an opportunity to be seized upon. When I think about summer months in the context of student ministry, I think of opportunities for kairos. Think about it – there is less competition for the amount of potential time you have with students – school is out, many of the extra-curricular activities have been put on hold, and students generally have a lot of free time during the summer months. So, if one is trying to seize upon opportune moments for intentional discipleship, why not focus on redeeming the summer months for this very purpose?
If you are looking to do more intentional discipleship in your student ministry, and if your goal is to see more students’ lives changed as they internalize the gospel for themselves, my encouragement would be to give a lot of consideration to jumping on-board with the notion of not wasting your summer. If it’s not with your entire group, then grab a handful of students and commit to meet with them as you go through the summer study of The Gospel Project: Students. Not only will it help serve the goal of equipping students with a biblical worldview to build their lives upon, but it will serve you in helping creating kairos moments in the life of your student ministry.