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Baptist teenagers encouraged to become campus fishermen

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Youth ministries that impact the culture in the 21st century will recognize school campuses as mission fields, conference speakers said during the 2001 SBC Student Conference June 10-11.

“Consider yourself a missionary to your campus sent by God,” Scott Grissom, an associate with the North American Mission Board’s student evangelism team, challenged about 300 students attending the NAMB-sponsored conference at the Louisiana Superdome. “Recognize that God sends you to school, not the government or your parents.”

Grissom introduced conference participants to a campus evangelism strategy called “FiSH” currently transforming Christian clubs on school campuses from social clicks to soul-winning stations for Christ.

Over the past nine months an average of 4,000 students per month have professed faith in Christ after attending a FiSH club at their school. Currently 2,400 schools in the United States and 11 countries have Christian clubs that practice the FiSH evangelism strategy.

FiSH, an acronym for Focus, Inspire, Share and Hook, includes a different weekly emphasis that is repeated each month.

The first week focuses on a time of prayer for students who do not know Jesus as Savior and Lord. The second week emphasizes inspiration and encouragement in the Christian walk. On the third week, students share their story or testimonies about what Christ is doing in their lives. On the fourth week of each month, the plan of salvation through faith in Christ is presented with an invitation for students to respond.

Daniel Guiffreda, 17, will be a senior in the fall at Ponchatoula High School near Hammond, La. Last fall, he started practicing the FiSH strategy in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at his school.

Guiffreda, who attended the conference, said the FiSH strategy keeps Christian clubs focused on what they were created to do.

“You’re going to get the gospel out and you’re also going to encourage — and that’s what we’re here for,” Guiffreda said.

“We started seeing people getting saved,” he said. “We started having more prayer time, and it brought the group closer together.”

Grissom said FiSH is designed to focus Christian clubs on prayer, evangelism and discipleship. “The reason we don’t talk to our friends about God is that we don’t talk to God about our friends,” Grissom told the students.

Allen Jackson, a youth ministry specialist at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, said impacting school campuses with the gospel is essential, not optional, for youth ministry in the new millennium.

“I have never seen a youth ministry grow unless evangelism was at the leading edge,” Jackson said. “If we continue winning teenagers to Christ at the current rate, we will win only 4 percent of them to Jesus.”

Emphasizing the urgency to reach teens with the gospel, Jackson cited a study by researcher George Barna which showed that one out of 10 people make professions of faith in Christ after age 18.

Jackson also warned youth ministry leaders to guard their time and their heart from the lure of the Internet through e-mail and inappropriate websites that make private sin tempting.

“If technology begins to take over your life, then it’s no longer your friend because it replaces relationships,” Jackson said.

In other activities, youth evangelist Stuart Hall of Cumming, Ga., encouraged teens and adults to quit trying to measure up to God’s standards through their own efforts and humble themselves before God and ask him to make them righteous.

“You can’t obtain righteousness yourself,” Stuart said. “It’s in God that we become righteous. It’s not Christ and you. It’s Christ in you. … You need to say, ‘I quit, I need your righteousness, not my own.'”

To learn more about the FiSH campus evangelism strategy, go online at www.catchthis.net or www.studentz.com.

    About the Author

  • Lee Weeks