September - New Kind of Ministry

September 2007

I was a senior in High School when I first felt that God was moving me in a direction of ministry as a vocation. I was involved in our youth group at church, and as I went off to college all I could think about was being a youth minister. Of course, it was all I knew and so it made sense that I didn’t really have a desire to do anything else. It wasn’t that I thought it was a strategic decision or anything. It just seemed to fit. However, by sophomore year I moved from wanting to be a youth minister to a youth evangelist. You know, one who would travel the country speaking at camps and conferences. Then came my junior year, and this time I came to the point where I was going to quite figuring out what I was going to be and allow God to simply use me where He saw fit. I began to get a heart for the nations at this point, yet I didn’t sense that I was to go overseas. I couldn’t make sense of all this until I heard on a video a guy saying that he wanted to mobilize this generation to be about God’s mission. For some reason, this word “mobilize” stood out to me. The Spirit used this moment to move my heart and my life in a direction of mobilization. A few years later I joined staff with The Traveling Team to do just that.

Between that time and joining staff, I remember having a conversation with a friend in which I told him that I could see myself becoming a pastor someday, and that I had never thought that before. I told him that I had been thinking about what it means to be called a pastor and how if one is called to be a pastor does it mean they have to only be a pastor in English and in America? What if the environment in which you were called does not necessarily determine where you will fulfill that calling? OK, so what does this have to do with the title?

I meet many guys and girls alike that have a passion to do youth and college ministry. I think this is wonderful! Many spend every summer at a youth camps serving thousands of youth from across a region or the whole U.S. Many serve at summer projects during the summers training in discipleship and evangelism. I am grateful for the youth and college ministers I had growing up, and for the friends I have now who are ministering among youth and college students. These are very strategic ministries, as well as ones with a lot of responsibility. I don’t mean the responsibilities of planning camps, conferences and retreats and what not; rather I am talking about the responsibility of raising up a generation to walk in the ways of Christ. This should never be taken lightly. However, I have not met many guys or girls with a passion for youth/college ministry among the nations. I know youth/college ministers who want to take their students overseas, but this is not what I am talking about. I am talking about someone who feels God is calling them into youth/college ministry and actually fulfilling that call overseas.

America currently has a population that is estimated at 300 million people. That’s a lot of people. China today is estimated to have 1.3 billion people. If you knock off the .3 part of 1.3 then you just wiped out all of America. In China, it is estimated that there are 300 million teenagers. Did you catch that? There are as many Americans as there are teenagers in China. Wow! Over half of the world’s 6.5 billion people are under the age of 25. In Iran, it is estimated that some 70% of the population is under the age of 27. The largest campus in America has some 60,000 students, and there are about 13 to 14 million college students in all of America. There are numerous campuses overseas that boast 75,000 students or more. A friend told me of a campus in Italy that has 90,000 students and only one campus ministry that was beginning to do work there.

God may very well be calling you to youth or college ministry, but are you for certain that you are to fulfill that calling here in the States? Is it possible that God might just want to use you overseas to reach the same age group? If you are called to stay, and there will be those that are, what if you raised up students with a passion for youth/college ministry to go overseas to another campus and begin a partnership. You could send students over to do study abroad trips where they could serve the kingdom effort there. I know I’m just dreaming, but seriously what if we became far more intentional about reaching the nations through the domains that God has called us to serve in already?

Bryan Padgett