A friend recently sent me the email below. I thought it would be a helpful discussion for all of us who lead Campaigners.
I’m currently leading a Campaigners group of around 15 guys. We meet every Sunday night at one of their homes and average 12 guys every week, which is great! The guys are all ‘good kids’ – most of them are really good athletes and come from good homes. We’ve been together for most of their high school years, this is our 3rd year doing Campaigners together. What I’m running into is this: they all have a lot of head knowledge, by now they know the ‘answers.’ They all hang out together and pretty much stay out of trouble, but it doesn’t go much beyond that -as far as really understanding a relationship with Christ. In Campaigners they can tell you what they SHOULD be doing, but they’re not really following through. I’m just having a really hard time getting anywhere remotely deep with them. They don’t really go below surface level on anything. Like I said- they’re all GREAT dudes and stay out of trouble, but it almost seems like they think that’s enough. They take the approach of “well, we’re hanging out together on the weekend instead of partying, so that’s pretty much all we have to do.” I feel stuck. How can I take them deeper? -Mark
Below are some ideas I emailed back to Mark. I’d love to hear any ideas you have as well. (Email me here) What have you done that has helped take your Campaigners group deeper?
How To Take Your Campaigners Group Deeper
A Rhythm Of Death & Resurrection
Life with Christ is a daily practice of dying to our sin and allowing His presence to live in and through us. In my typical world of upper-middle-class-white-suburban-Christianity it’s easy to become independent and convinced that we don’t need God. Paul points us to dependence in Philippians 3, “I long to know Christ and the power shown by his resurrection. I long to share in his sufferings, even to die as he died, so that I may perhaps attain as he did, the resurrection from the dead.” Our only hope for experiencing the resurrected life is Christ in us.
How do we help our high school friends experience dying to self and being raised to life in Christ?
Leave The Comfort Zone
Help your friends get into a place where they must depend on Jesus. Practice the spiritual discipline of fasting. Go serve together in uncomfortable places. Ask them what would be hard for them to do if God asked them to do it, then encourage them to do it. Who is hard for them to love? Encourage them to love them. A great way to do this is with some of our amazing Discipleship Camping Opportunities with YL Adventures.
Listen To Stories Of Spiritual Death & Resurrection
Ask your pastor or area director to introduce you to someone in the community who has a powerful redemption story. For example, I’m friends with a 40 year old who almost lost his marriage and family because of a porn addiction that led to multiple affairs. It would be powerful for him speak about how God brought resurrection from the death of that addiction. Bring in a set of parents who have adopted an orphan and have them share that rescue story. Invite another YL leader to share their testimony of how they moved from death to life.
It’s hard to do, but commanded in scripture. James 5:16 reads “You should get into the habit of admitting your sins to each other, and praying for each other, so that if sickness comes to you, you may be healed.” What if you had a night of confession at Campaigners? Might sound like crickets, but pray and ask the Lord to move, it could be a night that changed lives forever.
Commit to the Spiritual Success of the Other
Idea from Rick Beckwith (Discipleship Coordinator-Eastern Division)
What aspect of a small group affords the most lasting impact? I believe it is when Christ comes into the center of two or three existing friends, and they agree to run after Him together with reckless abandon. It’s when they actually commit to the spiritual success of the other. “Hey, I’ve got your back. When you head off to college, I will not only be praying for you each dayd,but checking in with you to see how you’re doing. When you struggle, I expect a call, and I will do likewise. There is nothing more important than our personal relationship with Jesus; nothing!” That sort of covenantal relationship, certainly from my experience, is what gives us the best chance of thriving and bearing fruit over the course of our lives.The classic biblical example of this is with Jonathan and David depicted in 1 Sa 18:1-5 – “As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David,because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him…” So when I seek to form a new small group, I look for kids who are already friends,and then go to work helping them put Christ in the center of their friendship.
What if your Campaigners group did a silent retreat together? When teenagers are forced to be quiet and have no phones, they’re faced with their own inadequacies and need for Christ. Painful, but powerful.
Teach Them To Look For Life & Death
Ask them, “Where did you experience death and resurrection with Christ this week?”
- “I cheated on my test, but God convicted me and so I confessed to my teacher and my parents. I got a ZERO on the test, and my parents grounded me, but I experienced freedom from guilt in a way I never have before.”
- “I have been addicted to porn since 8th grade. It’s had a death-grip on me. This is the first week in 3 years that I’ve experienced freedom. Because my will-power to stop has always failed me, I know it’s Christ alive in me that gave me strength to choose life over death this week.”
Speaking of dying to self. I read this article by Ann Voskamp and it’s beautifully convicting. I’m planning on using it in our co-ed Campaigners time this Sunday night.
Plan A Mission Trip
Planning a trip together is bonding. Keep it simple. Go somewhere close. You can experience pure poverty and depravity in your own city. It’ll take some work and planning, but experiencing a weekend of serving together reveals our own brokenness in a unique way.
Apart from the mercy of God, your Campaigners group will never go deeper. Have you committed this to prayer? Have you fasted about it? Have you believed God to move in a way that only He can? Often we try to be so strategic that we don’t leave room for God to do God-sized miracles. Believe. God loves it when we trust Him.
Throw A Change-Up
Instead of having a typical Campaigners “cabin time” each week, consider creating a monthly rhythm similar to this below.
1st Sunday: Study the Bible together.
Consider inviting a “guest” from the community lead your discussion. It could be your Area Director, your pastor, or anyone who is spiritually mature and could offer some Biblical insight to highschoolers. Prep your guest to lead a discussion more than to give a lecture.
2nd Sunday: Serve together.
Gather at one of the guy’s homes and work together to cook a meal for a sick or needy family. Go visit a nursing home, visit sick folks in a hospital, pack Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes, surprise your Area Director and rake their yard, etc..
3rd Sunday: Play together.
Plan an out-of-the-box event for your group. A scavenger hunt, trampoline park, board game night, Big Boy Bowling, invent a frisbee golf course, or go roll your team leader’s house. Just as pain often opens the heart of an adult, laughter often opens the heart of a child. Have pure, childlike fun together.
4th Sunday: Fast together.
Give up something individually, yet together, for 24 hours. Start on Saturday night and then break the fast when you come together on Sunday. If it’s food, break the fast with a huge celebration pot-luck meal where everyone contributes. But it doesn’t always have to be a food fast, maybe its a phone fast or a video game fast. During the fast, encourage your guys to pray specifically for one another, expecting God to move in each other’s lives.
5th Sunday (when it occurs): Become Men together.
Invite a man in your community to come teach a different man-skill once/month. They can teach your group how to change oil in a car, how to grill a perfect steak, fly-fishing tips, how to create a budget, etc…
Other Ideas To Rotate In
- Visit a church together that is a different tradition or culture than you’re used to. Get out of your comfort zone.
- Have A REEL theology night where you watch a movie and discuss the spiritual implications. Check out my friend Mikey’s website for helpful conversation starters. I highly recommend his podcast on the movie “Creed.”
- Host a Challenge Night where your Campaigners group plays another group from another school in stickball or Ultimate or Spikeball.
Here are 100 questions to help your Campaigners group open up.
What have you done that has helped take your Campaigners group deeper? Email me here and I’ll add it to this post. Thanks! -Drew Hill