ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–How do you change the world? One student at a time, as John Bailey sees it.
“That’s a 20-year-old statement, but we still see that it’s true, probably even more so with this generation,” said Bailey, who leads the student volunteer mobilization team for the North American Mission Board. “We wake up every day with this picture that students can change the world and it all comes about by what God can do through them.
“Once a student sees how God can work through them, that’s the distinction, that’s the transformational thing and it’s what gets us excited,” Bailey said. “Our dream from day one has been calling students to the frontline of missions — that’s where God wants this generation.”
One tool for mobilizing students to make a transforming impact on the world is World Changers, a pre-packaged mission experience for students managed by the North American Mission Board. World Changers celebrated 20 years in 2010 and is gearing up for another year of ministry.
World Changers provides students and adults with opportunities to meet the physical and spiritual needs of others, most often by replacing roofs and tackling other repairs. Volunteers donate a week of their summer working in conjunction with cities, churches and community agencies to provide renovations at no charge to low-income homeowners.
In 2011, World Changers will mobilize 21,000 student and adult volunteers to work in 85 cities on 96 projects across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Students from middle school to college will serve on teams that will repair and renovate inner-city homes. Despite sweltering summer heat, students will paint houses, repair or replace roofs, do minor carpentry and yard work. New project locations include Los Angeles, Gautier, La., and McComb, Miss.
As World Changers continues to build a missions heart into the lives of students, the North American Mission Board is in discussions with LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn., to see how the two entities together can impact even more students, Clark Logan, NAMB’s vice president of ministry controls, reported.
“NAMB is looking at a number of ways to partner with other SBC entities to be more efficient and effective in our ministry assignments,” Logan said. “LifeWay has a ministry assignment to students, and they do a great job with Centrifuge and MFuge and other camp-type student ministry.
“Of course, one of the assignments for NAMB is to mobilize students,” Logan added. “We are in discussions with LifeWay on ways we can combine resources and churches’ interests in order to help more students through the cycle of the Christian life.”
Even though the two entities are still in the learning stages of how they might work together, Faith Whatley is excited about the potential partnership.
“We are huge supporters of World Changers and PowerPlant and have always admired the way these ministries impact the lives of students,” said Whatley, director of church ministry training and events at LifeWay. “The student mobilization team at NAMB is a great group of people who are passionate about the work they do and about changing the lives of students.
“Our ultimate goal at LifeWay would be to help grow both of these ministries,” Whatley said.
“We value students enough to give them the best hands-on missions experience that we can,” Bailey said. “With both World Changers and [the student-oriented church planting sister program] PowerPlant, we’ve tried to place as many mission opportunities in and around our churches as possible, and I’m grateful to NAMB and Southern Baptists who partner with us to make those projects a success.”
Last year, World Changers shifted to a five-day model from the traditional seven-day projects, allowing staff to facilitate more projects, streamline operations and help use resources more wisely, Bailey said. For 2011, however, they are scheduling projects of both lengths.
“The five-day projects worked well, but we had a lot of feedback from church groups saying they missed the seven-day projects,” Bailey said. “So back by popular demand, we’re including a selection of seven-day projects in 2011.”
Seven-day projects are available in St. Louis; Shreveport, La.; Roanoke, Va.; Huntsville and Birmingham, Ala.; and two in Savannah, Ga.
Youth leaders who want to give a taste of missions to their students but aren’t ready to commit to a full-blown World Changers project may want to check out the three-day “Launch” projects. With a shorter schedule and affordable price, Launch can put missions in reach of any size youth group or budget.
Registration for World Changers and PowerPlant 2011 projects is now underway. Each project is open on a first-come, first-served basis. Groups may register without a deposit until Jan. 15.
Church groups also can register for PowerPlant projects in 24 cities across the United States and in Vancouver and Winnipeg, Manitoba, between June 13 and July 30.
PowerPlant students gain real-world experience in church planting and evangelism. Participants learn church planting principles and evangelism skills each morning, then have a chance to engage personally through assigned ministry team activities in the afternoon and evening.
First-time PowerPlant cities will be Boston; Washington, D.C.; and Winnipeg.
“We’re excited about some of the unique church planting experiences students will get to have in Washington D.C.,” said Jonathan Wilson, strategy development coordinator for PowerPlant. “We’ve already been in contact with a few congressional leaders who are Southern Baptist, so students will get to hear from them as well.”
The World Changers website — www.world-changers.net — is the best source for information on the ministry, 2011 project schedule and the registration information, Bailey said. For additional information on PowerPlant, visit www.power-plant.net.
Registration for most projects is $269, which includes meals, lodging, printed materials and local transportation for the week. Transportation to and from the project is the responsibility of the church group.
Carol Pipes is a writer for the North American Mission Board. To listen to a podcast related to World Changers, visit www.namb.net/nambpodcast.