This past week I was conducting an interview for the local newspaper, The Tennessean. As the reporter and I talked, he made an interesting statement, "that God was no longer allowed in schools." I have been in multiple meetings and even listened to other press try to push this agenda. However, like I did with this conversation, I whole-heartedly disagreed with this thought.
Schools, like churches, are made up of people. If there were no students to teach, then there would be no reason for the school building. The same goes for a church, you can call the building a church all you want, it is only when praying and believing people fill it up that it becomes the Church. The brick and mortar simply provide a meeting place or a tool to make it happen. So what happens when those same praying and believing people fill their school? Well no doubt God is found there, too.
I am very aware of the legal implications associated with saying God is in our schools. I can quote much of the law that is written regarding the Separation of Church and State or the Equal Access Law of 1984 (just a couple of the many rulings about God and the school system). Yet, no law has the authority or ability to remove the presence of God from any building containing two or more followers of Jesus.
Because of our faith in Jesus Christ, we are guaranteed that God is NOT out of our schools. For God's spirit doesn't require a physical location as it did in the Old Testament; rather, He dwells in the hearts and minds of all who choose to follow Him.
1 Corinthians 6:19
First Priority exists in a community to unite local churches around their schools. We build networks of adults who support believing students. This support system allows students to stand united in their faith and become what is inside of them, one of the most influential, important and grace-filled organisms in a school. That is the Body of Christ, alive and well, and definitely IN our schools.
1 Corinthians 12:27
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
As most of you who follow this blog know, I have had the good fortune of being part of First Priority of America for the past six years. Through some ministry and professional shifting, my focus has been turned toward relaunching First Priority Greater Nashville. In my 21 years of ministry, majority of them have been spent in Nashville. I have been a part of fantastic local organizations like Salama, Bethel, Christ Church, On The Go, Barefoot Republic, Fellowship Bible, MyLifeSpeaks, Oasis and others. Nashville attracts a diverse group of people who are desperately in need of the Gospel and I am passionate about seeing them reached.
With all of those good organizations in place, a question could be asked, "Why relaunch a nonprofit organization now?" The question is not only valid, it is right.
As I wrestled with my focus on Nashville, I could not shake my call to the mission of First Priority. My heartbeat revolves around uniting the local Church (Methodist, Baptist, Charismatic, Presbyterian, Nazarene, Catholic….) to empower students to reach their peers with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. First Priority Greater Nashville is not a new organization. It is a 17-year-old movement in schools across Nashville and a 5-year-old NPO. The decision to take the lead as it's executive director was less of a decision and more of an "IT IS TIME!"
Which leads me to this thought. In the six Greater Nashville counties with whom i am working, there are over 140,000 teenage students in public and private schools. I am moved daily by the thought, "WHAT IF?":
What if amongst the 1,500 local evangelical churches in Greater Nashville, many began to unite as the prayer of Jesus urges in John 17:23, specifically around schools?
What if every student in these schools had the opportunity to intersect with the love and message of Jesus Christ through one of their peers?
What if 1,000 students who never experienced Jesus, heard and responded to that message during the 2014-15 school year?
For me the answer is easy, the body of Christ in Nashville would be reaching, discipling and launching an army of Hope. Not just any army, but an army of young people the world is currently watching. An army that would have the resources Nashville offers and could seriously bring the Hope of Jesus to the world. As a father of three, students aren't just a passing interest for me. My oldest son will start Jr High in two years. Which means, reaching the schools in Nashville is not only a ministry for me, it's personal.
Back to my "WHAT IF" questions: "What if it worked?…" The answer is simple: our community, our state, our nation and this world, would never be the same!
If i can buy you a smoothie or cup of coffee to discuss further how we can come together to see this Kingdom reality, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.