by Shan Smith of the Agape Christian Church in Terre Haute, IN.
As our church experienced the devastation of a flood last June, I was forced to simplify our programs by meeting on back porches and in small family rooms. To my surprise (and lack of faith), the ministry grew both numerically and spiritually as we redefined our purpose. We began focusing on what really matters–loving God and loving others by going “into the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything” God commanded. The teaching was in place, but I began focusing more on the foundational doctrines of the faith and encouraging students to apply these truths into their lives and walk after taking them through the Gospel Journey. It soon became very evident that witnessing was a necessity as certain students were overflowing with a desire to share with others.
When balance occurs the end result is not only a personal spiritual growth in students, but by the Holy Spirit’s guidance and increased confidence, i.e. students begin going “wide.” Students were beginning to see the harvest before them in their circle of influence. Instead of waiting for someone to ask them about their faith, they began to ask important questions of their friends. As the Deep and Wide Strategy suggests, we continued to “mobilize students to relationally and relentlessly reach their friends for Christ and to view themselves as ones strategically placed by God in their schools, neighborhoods, on sports team, in the family, etc.” as a witness for Christ, and God’s Kingdom has expanded.
I have one particular student who shares the Gospel message nearly everyday on his school campus and has seen many pray and ask Christ to be the Lord of their lives. His passion is contagious and he recently led his 2nd grade sister to Christ. He even got the opportunity to baptize her. Their whole family has adopted their own evangelist outreach plan and witnesses to neighbors throughout our community.
The Deep and Wide Strategy has directly impacted our children’s ministry by allowing God to bring a quadruple numerical increase. I have led 12 children and students to Christ and baptized them in the past month and a half. God has truly blessed our efforts by utilizing the simplicity of the Deep and Wide approach to ministry.
I am also blessed to “Go Wide” each week by working with fellow youth pastors as we share the Gospel with 225 students at a local middle school. With such a balanced Deep and Wide Philosophy to ministry, God has transformed the hearts of many students and brings them back each week desiring more. An overflow of God’s power has resulted in 9 local schools having such a ministry where students hear the Gospel from faithful witnesses weekly.
It is my prayer that ministers of the Gospel would move past the programs and simply become what God has called us to be–witnesses to everyone we encounter of what Jesus has done for us remembering that we are called to go “Wide” by sharing what we have seen, what we have heard, what we did, and how we feel as believers and followers of an amazing God.
Student Ministries Pastor
Agape Christian Church