MIDDLE OF OGN
I’m right now in the middle of OGN, actually almost at the end.
I plan to write a little more later, but I had a second to write during the “night off” here at Point Loma Nazarene U. There are about 200 HS & College students down here. This is the 1st chance I’ve had to even think about writing a little something. I am unbelievably busy from the time I wake up to the time I hit the rack at about midnight.
First of all what is this thing? It comes from my student ministry days. Myself & a couple of my youth pastor pals, wanted to do something to really train & equip kids to actually impact their campuses, their friendship circles with the good news about Christ. As a youth pastor you live with the reality that you are entrusted with the part of the church that traffics amongst those who are the most open to becoming Christ followers. Numerous studies have shown that most people in our culture who are going to come to Christ will do so before they are 18 (somewhere in the neighborhood of 85%). But it’s hard to ignite the most effective means of reaching people – friend-to-friend kind of reaching. Kids are racked w/ all kinds of issues of identity & security. Their own faith development is in process in a way that adults aren’t. But the fact is that God can & does use them. There is a good chance that some if not most of the disciples were in the teenage or young adult years when Jesus called them.
So what do you do? Enter Operation Good News (soon known only as the acronym OGN). It’s simple mornings – learn to explain & share your faith. Afternoons: go out to public places where people are hanging out & initiate conversations about spiritual stuff. Each day some of the students stay back fasting & praying the entire 3 hours their friends are out there. Evenings – worship & learn at a moment of intense receptivity due to the experiences of the day.
There are some critical ideas involved:
– You can’t learn to share your faith without sharing your faith
– The closer it gets to just like home the more it will impact you when you get back home. This is why I saw a lot more impact from this week in some ways than from any missions trip.
– God shows up as we take risks as we go all in (or as close as we can to all in). For a student all in is a lot about social capital. In walking up to other people who are just like them they are going all in.
– Sometimes people actually decide to come to Christ. This is not the main point, but it’s wonderful.
– Training, especially of kids that have grown up in the church – needs the kind of praxis that this involves. Kids are way more interested in the what & the why of the faith when they are being challenged by a skeptic, a person of another faith, a cult member etc.
– We don’t just go out to give our Jesus pitch. We learn to ask, “God, what’s my place in this encounter.”
It started with 3 youth pastors but as I had friends & interns check this thing out, we’ve had dozens of youth ministries involved through the years (we’ve been doing it in SD for about 15 years – before I ever moved here). There are some rich friendships as lots of people I’ve worked with & even kids that have gone on to be youth pastors are there.
So, I teach for 3 hours in the mornings. I do 3 of the evening talks (I’m wrapping up tomorrow night, please pray). I go out talk to people at the beach like they do (I to need all the above) & then I seem to spend time catching up with, sometimes counseling with the other people leading groups that are there. It’s been 8 years since I’ve been in student ministries. This is the week when I remember why I stayed so long.
My next post will share some stuff about this week.