It’s an extraordinary privilege to partner with our missionaries in resourcing them with the tools they need to reach people with the story of God’s love. Yet there are numerous benefits that can be anticipated in an effective STL ministry.
First of all, the concept of missional living is instilled in students and leaders. Participants and sponsors will be exposed to the value that God places on every individual, and as a result, they will begin to view humanity through that lens. No one is without significance. That is an important principle to learn and internalize.
Secondly, the concept of giving becomes a part of the discipleship strategy. Some may suggest that finance is irrelevant to discipleship, but consider that twice as many verses in the Bible give attention to money as prayer and faith combined, and that Jesus discussed the topic of money more than both heaven and hell. Jesus knew that our handling of money is like an open window into the soul. Character is disclosed, and our passions are exposed1. So, the impartation of a giving heart is vital to the development of our faith.
Teaching students to give while they are young also has future implications for the church. Kids that understand biblical principles of giving are likely to continue to give throughout their lives. A national telephone survey of 4,000 adults by an organization devoted to philanthropy revealed that those who served or volunteered their time when they were young became the most generous adults2. Students learn that when they trust God with their resources and express that through faithful giving, God takes care of their needs and works miracles in their finances. Service and giving becomes a habit and an integral value point. It would be difficult to imagine finding a pastor who would not be excited about the prospect of attendees who already understood these dynamic principles.
Finally, it is expected that students who possess a global worldview and passion for the lost will want to do something for Christ in their own communities. The responsibility of the Spirit- empowered church is to be Christ’s witnesses in “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” As students learn to care about God’s mission of love for the world, the “fringe benefit” is that they are inspired to live proactively in sharing Christ with people in their own community.
1 Ortberg, John, Laurie Pederson, and Judson Poling. Giving: Unlocking the Heart of Good Stewardship. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000. Print.
2 O’Donnell, Colleen, and Lyn Baker. Generous Kids: Helping Your Child Experience the Joy of Giving. Dallas: Brown Books, 2007. Print.
Chet Caudill serves as the national Speed the Light and Student Missions director for the National Youth Ministries of the Assemblies of God.