Based on our research of nearly 3000 students from around the country, students shared what the toughest thing is about being a Christian at school. Students deal with the fear of what others think, fear of offending people with their beliefs, but that was not their top answer, where 45% of students said the same thing. In this episode, we take a closer look at the school environment, how we can help students stand for the truth and navigate their faith on their school campus, and how prayer can be a catalyst for change.
If you were to answer the following question as a student, what answer would you come up with?
What is the toughest thing about being a Christ-follower on a school campus?
We asked students this same question and the answer may surprise you.
Their #1 answer is that they are unsure of how to represent their faith.
What is the hardest part of being a Christian at school?
Fear of What Others Think // 28%
Unsure of How to Represent My Faith // 45%
I Feel Like I Might Offend People With My Beliefs // 20%
I think Faith Should be Kept Private While at School // 7%
Adults’ Response in what they thought students would say was:
Fear of What Others Think // 49%
Unsure of How to Represent My Faith // 35%
I Feel Like I Might Offend People With My Beliefs // 12%
I think Faith Should be Kept Private While at School // 4%
Adults thought the top answer would be fear, which appears to be something that adults faced when they were in middle school/high school. In past generations, it was a fear of what other people think, but now there is a shift and, based on our research, students don’t know how to represent our faith.
But we believe we can be encouraged by looking at the stat of 45% of students being unsure of how to represent their faith at school. This is a teaching moment for youth workers to students. How can we show them ways to represent their faith at school campus? Can we provide tools so they can have a sense of certainty when they feel unsure of how to live out their faith at school? Overcoming uncertainty is way easier than overcoming fear.
We can help students navigate standing for truth and overcome the fear of rejection. There appears to be this fear that if we disagree with someone else, then all of a sudden that means I hate you as a person. Culture is prevalent with examples of this, but this is not a true statement, although we are led to believe it is. We know the word of Jesus, the words of the gospel can be offensive, are we showing students how to tell the truth in a spirit of love? Can we talk about the fact that we can disagree with someone, yet still love them? It’s not an either-or situation. Just because you disagree, doesn’t mean you hate them.
If there is a conflict because of our faith, are we showing students ways to navigate those conversations? If people acknowledge differences between each other, it seems that it is automatically a bad thing because “they are different.” Can we accept our differences and still interact with love? We have a tendency to recognize our differences and then isolate ourselves away from those who are different or think differently.
Admiration is a good practice and a good place to start. Can we admire something in someone who is different than us? Jesus built bridges between people by admiring those who were different than him since he was perfect and without sin while interacting with sinners. We may not admire the thing that goes against our beliefs (the sin one’s life), but what can we find that we still admire of those who are different?
In the church, there’s been a shift toward what we are for, not just what we are against. We may be silent on the things that we disagree about. In today’s society and social climate, there is more of a need to navigate lightly in what we say, how we say it, etc. But we can still say what we are for, draw a line in the sand of what we are not for, and still not be hateful.
CLAIM YOUR CAMPUS
What would you say right now are the top issues you think students face on campus?
As youth leaders, we may be able to immediately identify 3-5 issues off the top of our heads. As an organization, we’ve identified the top 20 issues in middle school and high school campuses.
They are listed in no particular order:
Indifferent Christ Followers
Lack of Prayer for School
Selfish Christ Followers
Students Not Sharing Their Faith
Disunity Among Christ Followers
Disrespect Toward Peers
Disrespect Toward School Staff
Health and Nutrition
Protection for School
What is Claim Your Campus?
Claim Your Campus means claiming responsibility to humbly pray to God on behalf of your school.
It is a movement of uniting 1 million middle school and high school students across America to pray for the issues they see at their school. There are 67,000 schools in the United States. If only 15 students per campus were to start praying for their school, we would see over 1 million students praying on every school campus.
We are currently in over 900 schools in 44 states. We have developed a mobile app that is available on all app store platforms. This mobile app allows CYC to mobilize and equip students to pray for their campus each day, as well as learn how to pray for the issues they face. Through our mobile app, students have identified the top two issues students face are gossip and disrespect.
The issues are broken down by Four Prayer Strategies: GRACE, PEACE, JUSTICE, MERCY
We have seen prayer change school campuses. If you are a youth pastor or a youth worker who desires to bring Claim Your Campus to your community, to your church, to the schools in your area, please check out CYC Connect+
CYC Connect+ mobilizes students to change their campus through prayer. CYC provides you with a customizable 60-minute program that empowers you to equip your students to make this happen.
We need to help students find the best ways to navigate their faith at school and how to represent their faith well. It is up to us youth workers to show them how. We feel like CYC is not a shameless plug, but instead a tangible way to encourage students to represent their faith on their campus, through praying for their school. We encourage you to consider CYC as an option in your ministry.
© 2017, Never The Same