A Global Youth Awakening – Students Doing the Work of Ministry!
The Story of the Student Churches
In the book of Acts, a prayer meeting in Antioch produced apostolic sending. An apostolic team was sent out to travel, make disciples, and start new church communities. Today, the prayer movement is fostering a rediscovery of this type of apostolic ministry –students are starting churches among the unreached on college campuses around the world.
The Beginnings of A Student Church Movement
In the Bible, Joshua and Caleb saw things differently than others. God said they had “a different spirit.” The story of the student churches began with that same spirit.
Two students named Joshua and Caleb (yes, that was really their names) started to dream of a move of God across the UCLA campus. They began praying 24/7. As they prayed, they dreamed of forming students into simple house church communities that could meet across the campus. They went out to preach in the center of campus with towels in their backpack, believing that students afterward would baptize other students in the university fountains. The story that followed at UCLA is told in The Blueprint, by Jaeson Ma.
Today, students are baptizing students on universities all over the place. The seed of Joshua and Caleb’s prayers and dreams are beginning to spread across many universities.
In Western Pennsylvania at this same time, another student named Lee Myers and mentor friend Brad McCoy were contending for spiritual awakening at Allegheny College. As Lee would read the stories of Jesus, he began to meditate on a thought that kept coming back to him, “If Jesus could heal the sick, why couldn’t I at least try?”
Lee began to pray for people with illnesses. At first, there were very few healings. They kept praying.
Then strange things started happening. As they were faithful to keep praying for the sick and injured, the frequency of the healings started increasing.
In one semester, 40 healings were reported on the Allegheny campus. Injured athletes and others would come ask them for prayer. Lee began to organize the students into smaller gatherings led by students. Students from other campuses in the university-dense atmosphere of Western Pennsylvania began coming to Allegheny College to experience what God was doing and spread it elsewhere. The beginnings of a student church movement were happening.
When Lee tragically died a short time later, his testimony didn’t. It began spreading to universities all over the nation.
Heard it in the Prayer Room
The first time I heard of “student churches,” I was in a prayer room, desperate to hear from the Lord about where He was leading our family. I heard the words, “student church.” I saw a vision in my spirit of students leading small churches that multiplied and spread across campuses. I saw students and young people traveling from campus to campus, spreading the movement in the power of the Holy Spirit. Within a few months, I discovered God had been speaking the same vision to leaders across the world. This was God’s doing, not the idea or vision of men.
Spiritual Moms and Dads
As God is speaking to students, God simultaneously is stirring the hearts of spiritual moms and dads to support them. Where there are healthy, growing student churches, there are usually spiritual fathers and mothers that bless and serve those student leaders.
Many local church leaders have also come alongside what they see God doing among the youth. They started asking, “How can I train and send the youth of my church to start new churches among the unreached?” One SE Asian pastor recently said, “I don’t care about having a mega church anymore. I want to see a movement across my nation. I’m willing to take a risk and send out the youth to plant churches.”
Yea, God! Do this everywhere!
Student Church Characteristics
1. Student churches are actual expressions of church. They are not just Bible studies, campus meetings, small groups, or evangelistic outreaches. The students see their experience of following Jesus together with other students their primary experience of what it means to “be the church of Jesus.”
2. Student churches are led by students. The students lead the churches. Mentors serve a support role only.
3. Student churches practice interdependent leadership. They are not characterized by one charismatic personality or leader. Gatherings are not small versions of a conventional church meeting. They usually gather in a circle to interact with the scriptures, apply principles to their lives, and exhort each other to live out the teachings of Jesus. They listen for the Holy Spirit, worship, pray, and focus on reaching other students with the message of the gospel.
4. Student churches are motivated by a love for the nations. When you spend time with student church leaders, they talk about fulfilling the Great Commission. They dream about going to the nations after college, or helping to send their friends. The seeds start on campuses, but spread to the cities and the nations.
5. Student churches are fueled by prayer. The student churches are birthed, sustained, and multiplied through praying students.
From Campuses to Nations
A short time after God called us to serve the student church movement, God reminded me, “Erik, remember, it is not about campuses, it is about nations.”
This has become a guiding mantra for how we perceive what God is doing on the campuses. He’s sending youth to the campuses to reach the nations. What a great way to reach the world for Jesus — send thousands and thousands of youth to be church planters in the university systems across the world. Students live in the dorms. They take classes with the future leaders of the nations. When they leave, they’re equipped with experience in church planting. The church can multiply at every university in the world if we will send the youth to do it!
Prayer + Student Churches = Global Student Missions Movement
The prayer and student church planting movement is part of a divine blueprint for a global spiritual awakening among the youth of the world. Here is a glimpse of what God is doing:
- A graduate student baptizes five students and starts a student church with the new converts.
- A student starts an international student church on his campus with visiting PhD scholars from SE Asian nations — all who previously had never read a Bible before.
- A student baptizes another first year student in a dorm shower. They soon begin sharing the good news of Jesus with Muslim students.
- Students are stopped by university administration from baptizing international students in a campus fountain – so they improvise and use buckets to baptize them.
- People are miraculously healed as students go out demonstrating power evangelism on their campus and city.
- A mission agency working in the Middle and Near East strategizes that university students are the most receptive to the gospel. They start efforts to plant student churches on the college campus.
- A student at an American university leads three Asian students to Christ, baptizes them and starts a church on their campus. They travel that summer to a SE Asian nation and spread the gospel together to other students there.
- Students begin indigenous-led student churches on a Native American college campus — believing for a church planting movement to spread from the campus to the 500+ tribal nations scattered across North America (many which do not yet have an evangelical church among them).
Across the world, students are moving in a rhythm of prayer and mission unlike has been seen in decades. Are we at the beginning of a global youth awakening? We believe, “Yes!”
“God let your kingdom come on campuses and in the nations!”
Let’s pray in faith!
- Pray for the student churches to walk in love, power, and humility
- Pray that a student church planting movement will spread to every university in the world; that God would send forth laborers to these harvest fields.
- Pray for spiritual fathers and mothers to love and serve the student churches.
- Pray for a global youth movement to bring transformation to the marketplace and the influential spheres of society.
- Pray for a united effort among churches, youth ministries, and mission agencies to send a global tribe of student church planters to universities across the world.
- Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit among First Nations youth (indigenous people) across the world. They are hidden treasures God is raising up to be leaders and messengers in this next global youth awakening.
- Pray for a global youth awakening in every nation and the fulfillment of the Great Commission in this generation!
By Erik and Jen Fish
Student Church Movements