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First Priority of Alabama encourages youth pastors, campus ministers to equip young peoplecomment (0)

August 14, 2014

By Maggie Walsh

First Priority of Alabama encourages youth pastors, campus ministers to equip young people

First Priority of Alabama encouraged 75 youth pastors and campus ministers to spread a message of hope at the City-Wide Campus Ministry Network Luncheon on Aug. 7 at Samford University in Birmingham.

Held quarterly, this meeting “gives people a chance to see that they’re involved in something bigger than what they can see,” said Matthew Wilson, executive director of First Priority of Alabama.

First Priority was founded in Irving, Texas, in 1985 following Benny Proffitt’s struggle with reaching young people as a youth pastor. 

“I said, ‘Lord, either teach me how to reach this generation or take it away from me,’” said Proffitt, who served as the keynote speaker at the Aug. 7 event. Proffitt is president of First Priority Global.

From that plea came the realization that to reach the next generation, youth ministers have to go to where students are instead of trying to get students to come to them, he explained.

Since that realization First Priority has now grown into a global ministry with programs in Uganda, Kenya, Spain, Indonesia and parts of Europe.

First Priority is in nearly 300 schools across Alabama, with more than 12,000 students involved in programs in Birmingham alone, Wilson said.

First Priority is not a ministry but a strategy, Proffitt emphasized. Step one is go to the kids, and step two is take on the role of equippers. 

“We’re not going to reach the next generation if we’re not equipping the young people who already go into the schools every day,” Proffitt said. 

For youth workers and ministers, the task is to go and make disciples.

“Jesus never told us to build God’s kingdom — it’s already built,” he said. 

The catalyst for First Priority’s strategy is relationships, he added, noting that “without relationships the truth doesn’t matter.”

Challenging participants to read Luke 6:40 and read what Jesus instructed His followers to do, Proffitt said, “If we’re going to proclaim a message, we need to know what the message is.”

In keeping with the spirit of equipping, each participant received a packet of materials with information on youth retreats, Christian programs, missions trips and more. 

The meeting also gave new ministries the opportunity to share with others in attendance.

Israel Partridge, founder of True Adventure Sports (TAS) in Fort Payne, said his business/ministry uses extreme team-building sports and activities to show youth how their physical struggle is rooted in a deeper spiritual struggle. TAS provides guided trips for rappelling, rock climbing, whitewater kayaking, zip lining, wild cave tours and more.

Tim Hill of Gulf Shores Beach Retreat shared about the “chance to experience God in a different way” with a weekend by the sun and sand.

Hill then introduced Taylor Morton, founder of Converge Ministries, who Hill will partner with for an upcoming winter retreat. Based in Centreville, Converge Ministries strives to break down barriers that separate Christians from uniting as one body of Christ.

Wilson, who works directly with First Priority Greater Birmingham, described the strategy First Priority Greater Birmingham will be using to minister to students in the 2014–2015 school year — “Hope.”

The four-part strategy is designed to equip students to be the change for Christ in their school.

“We want you to see yourself as coaches,” Wilson told participants. “Give the right resources and game plan ... then let them play the game they’re called to play.”

For more information about First Priority and the City-Wide Campus Ministry Network Luncheon, call Matthew Wilson at 205-871-8886 or visit www.gofirstpriority.com. 

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