Thought Factory Podcast #203 || The Most Influential Environment in Society: Interview with Chuck Klein

What is the most influential environment in society?  In today’s episode, we discuss the topic of the most influential environment in society.  Chuck is the Director of Campus Alliance, a coalition of over 60 ministries and denominations coming together to see an impact happen on every one of the 67,000 school campuses (25-26 million students) across the United States.  We discuss this small window of opportunity and how to best leverage this age group before they graduate high school and disperse into thousands of directions.

Chuck began in the ministry by leading the campus division of Campus Crusade for Christ for 25 years.  He lost his dad at the age of 8.  He was brought up by the Church, where the men of his church helped raise him, so the church was very foundational in his life.  He started The Campus Alliance in the late 90’s and currently oversees the direction of the organization.

The Campus Alliance is a relational network of churches, organizations, youth workers, and students that embrace the vision of reaching out to every high school and middle school student at every campus in America, sharing the love and truth of Jesus Christ.

Campus Alliance has a three-part strategy on school campuses: Pray, Care, Share.

Pray –It is about prayer and mobilization on the school campus.  Students are allowed to pray at school for their classmates, so helping students learn how to pray for others.  Teachers are allowed to pray on campus.  Parents pray for their students’ campuses.  Campus Alliance brings together all these sources of prayer.  When you pray, things begin to happen on campus.

Care – It is about caring for those who do not have.  Students who have the means reach out to those who do not have, showing the love of Christ and caring for those in need.

Share – It is about sharing the gospel.  When truth is spoken and shared, life change happens.  Through the sharing of the gospel, students begin to put their trust in Christ.

These three things together make a balanced ministry on campus.

The school is the most influential environment in society.  Ninety(+) percent of students are on a campus somewhere and they will be there 5 days a week, 6-7 hours a day or more.  If there can be a witness for Christ on every campus then that puts a student at arms reach of the gospel. After they graduate, they will disperse in 1000 different directions, and never again will they all be in one location as they are now.  There are students that are praying, caring, and sharing with other students.  Never again will that happen with this generation.

This is a very strategic mission field, which is right in our backyard. The Truancy Laws have pulled all the students together into one place.  Middle school and high school students are in the most influential time of their life.

Three stats by the numbers of why the school is the most influential environment in society:

9000:  The number of hours students will spend on a school campus between middle school and high school.

99.5%:  The percentage of students that will spend their entire time on a middle school and high school campus.

80-85%:  The percentage of students that will place their trust in Christ before they leave high school. This age is the most receptive to the gospel.

The crew of students from elementary tends to travel through school together so that when they hit middle school and high school, they are shoulder to shoulder with each other.  That is why it is important to have students following Christ to make an impact.  They have 1st amendment rights to talk about anything in schools, as long as they are not disruptive.  Never again will those Christians be surrounded by that amount of students.  They are the most influential with the most people where God can use them.

Why should youth pastors have a campus strategy and why it should be on their radar to go on a school campus?
By being on campus and among the students, it can give a youth pastor/youth leader more insight, more energy, and more vision for their ministry.  If the youth pastor/youth leader is really concerned about the students in their community, then they need to be where the students are as often as possible and be there with their your own students.   Go once a week.

Campus ministry is youth ministry.  Every youth pastor should be connecting with the local school some way – on campus, at athletics events, plays, concerts, etc.  They’ll learn more about what’s going on in the culture by talking, interacting with the students on campus.  They will become much better at what they do, and better at discipling their students.

Students are very open to discussing spiritual things and have questions that no one is answering for them.

Youth pastors/youth leaders are in the most fruitful mission field, how will we take advantage of this and navigate through this?


1. Explain the Gospel in terms students understand.
Evangelism is the least talked about and the toughest thing in youth ministry.  If students are properly approached and are communicated with the language they understand (not religious talk) they are receptive to discussing this topic.

2. Ask permission.
Evangelism is as relevant as its ever been.  We change with the culture and adapt to what’s going on and what they may be thinking about.  People still want to talk about God and eternity, but instead of just forcing this topic onto students, ask permission to discuss and explain to them why this topic is important.  Keep it in the form of a conversation.

3. Simply talk about it.
Kids and adults, especially teenagers are open to the Gospel.  For some reason, we in the church have moved away from this topic and have convinced ourselves that culture is no longer interested.  We claim that there are no approaches that work today, but that is simply a myth.  It may need some reinvention or a rebirth within the body of Christ, but many approaches are still as effective today as they were decades/centuries ago.  We just don’t want to talk about it or take the time to talk about it.

Students have two major problems with evangelism:

1. They don’t want to risk their relationships – they have fear of rejection.
2. They don’t know what to say or what to do.

Yes, the risk is there.  There is always a risk involved.  But, the risk is not that high, especially as high as they may think.

How can students express to a friend and explain the gospel?
It is about learning how to ask questions and admire what the other person believes in.  Listen to the other person, admire them and what they may believe.  If there is listening and respect from us, the more likely the other person will listen and respect us.

“Can I share with you about what I believe?” (permission)

Learn to naturally talk about our Savior, grace, God’s love.  How faith in Jesus has changed us.  Then the gospel takes over because it is supernatural.

Why just being a good person and doing good deeds alone is not enough and why words are important as well?
The two opposing views on evangelism are:
1. Just doing good deeds
2. Being aggressive with words alone

The two extremes are either someone who never wants to talk about Christ and just do good works and the person on the other side who just wants to preach and get into people’s faces.  Evangelism is not one or the other.  It must be a balance between words and deeds.  What we are seeing in the body of Christ is that if we just do good works and the good deeds, that speaks louder about love than words do.  It’s a combination of my love and compassion for people and the words that I share.

We should be helping teenagers understand the truth.  Then they can personally connect with God.  They need to understand what the truth is.  What condition they are in.  The shame they feel.  That they sinned.  They won’t know of these truths if the words about these truths are never spoken.

Good deeds are the normal Christian life – if someone is hungry, we should feed them.  We don’t feed them only so we can share Christ with them.  We feed them because they need food.  At the same time, the greatest thing we can do is help them connect with the Creator, that is why we share words with them.  Deeds are normal. Sharing good news is normal.  Deeds are easier to do.  Words are confrontational. [ictt-tweet-inline]

Words and deeds are both equally important, just because one is harder than the other one, doesn’t mean we do the easy one and not the hard one.


Evangelism goes together with discipleship, like two wings on an airplane.  Students are not authentically discipled without evangelism being a part of it.  The more students articulate the gospel, the more they come to understand it themselves and love it.  They go hand in hand.

What is your (Chuck) perception of youth ministry right now?
We cannot compete with the entertainment of the world. We are trying to use the world’s methods to keep them engaged.  Students want more substance and we need to be giving that to them.  It needs to come through teaching the word, engaging with the Bible, and through evangelism.  We are to equip students to have conversations about the gospel.  Youth ministries are beginning to realize this, which is a positive trend.  But, youth work is dwindling due to shifts in the Church, which is not a positive trend.

What kept you (Chuck) in youth ministry for so long?
To use a farming illustration: [ictt-tweet-inline]When harvest time comes, you go to the ripest fields first.  When you are limited on the time you have, you go to the fields that are most productive.  That is students.  They are the most responsive age in our society. [/ictt-tweet-inline]

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