I get asked that question on occasion. The answer is, not very often. This is from one time I did.
Over my 20 plus years of ministry I can honestly say that I’ve only spoken in a public school less than 15 times! The majority of the these meetings have been amazing. One time was a bit of a challenge with the principal running scared that they were going to lose their job. He was watching me like a hawk, but it went very well and I got to speak with the students during lunch period as well.
On another occasion I lasted 10 minutes and then they pulled the fire alarm to get me out of there! That was an experience. But, one of the most powerful times that I’ve ever had in ministry was in a public school where we gave an altar call and had a minimum of 30 young people respond. This was after school hours, but it was all initiated by a senior in the school who filled the place to capacity.
Let me share one very special time that God opened the door for me to speak, via Skype, in a public school in North Dakota. A gentleman that I’d met while speaking at his church in New York went to North Dakota to start a church and works in the schools to make ends meet. Meet Jeremy, aka “Bear”!
“For the past several months God has really impressed upon my heart the reality of the spiritual warfare that is taking place over this little town in North Dakota. I have been specifically praying for the opening of eyes in this school in regard to what is “true” and what is “deception”. As a result what took place on Tuesday is that Carl was able to speak for 50 minutes on “truth” in a public school!
The “truth” that Carl was able to discuss was about the topic of racism. He was able to present this talk to around 50 7-12 graders from a biblical perspective! During this talk he revealed the roots of the racist philosophy prevalent in evolutionary thinking, while at the same time clearly shedding light on the fact that Scripture does not give a basis for racism at all. In listening to the talk, Carl presented his beliefs in a bold, yet clear respectful manner that was “seasoned with grace” just as Colossians 4:6 exhorts us to. Even in speaking with the superintendent a few days after the talk, he felt that Carl clearly stated his beliefs without being “pushy” or arrogant.
My prayer is that more opportunities like this will be allowed in the future, and that these talks would be the bridge discussions that ultimately lead the hearers to faith in Christ as their Savior and Lord. Please continue to pray that ears will hear, that eyes will see, and that darkness and deception would be revealed in the light of truth, Jesus Christ.
What a privilege to be an encouragement to those like Jeremy who are on the ‘front lines’ of this spiritual battle. He also sent me feedback that the students had written after the meeting. Let me let share with you see what they said. The good the bad and the ugly!
“some parts were boring but there were other parts that were interesting. If you are into religion and history it would be a good video” (I just happen to have a video of this talk!)
“absolutely pointless. I didn’t even pay attention. I would have rather been sewing”
“Good. It was kind of like a church lesson though. I liked it because that is what my family and I believe. Our family likes to go to church but we can’t always. So it felt pretty good to hear it. It feels like it made up a lot of the church lessons that I wasn’t there for”
“I thought that it was really racist when they said black men were closer to a monkey. The thing made me feel bad for our mistakes that our ancestors made. It was right to say ‘What color was Adam and Eve’.
“It was OK, but it wasn’t always interesting”
“I thought it was interesting. I liked how he used animals to get to the point of different ‘breeds’ of people”
“I thought the presentation was interesting but I thought school was not to educate or pursue people to talk about it [God I assume). I thought it was nice to learn about the history”
“I thought that it was very good. Taught me a lot about how no matter what you look like, you should be treated well!”
“I thought it was interesting. I thought it was cool about the twins being one ‘black’ and one ‘white'”
“It was rather confusing. I feel it went between two subjects [racism and evolution] and was hard to follow. Content was interesting though”
“I thought it was a good talk. It taught us some good thoughts…that it doesn’t matter what color your skin is, you are still a person and should be treated with respect”
“When he said his first few words, I got so excited! He was so bold about talking about his faith to us kids. I am so glad he was willing to talk to us! I loved it so much! Kids here could care less about God or anything that remotely deals with Him. It drives me crazy. Something I did realize though, once he was finished; the kid’s faces. They really were thinking about what he said. That is so awesome! I also loved the points he made. It was great! I want to thank him very profusely for taking the time to talk with us! It meant a lot. Me, being basically the only Christian who acts like one, it’s so nice to have someone from the outside talk to everyone about God and what He says. I am just one person and it is very hard. Thanks so much for getting him here!”
To me it was all worth it for that one 12th grader. Yes, I’d love for everyone to have liked me and have written really nice things. But that’s just not reality when we’re dealing with spiritual issues. Regardless of what we say, some will receive, some will reject and some will just keep on floating through life as if nothing’s going on.
There’s another interesting dynamic going on here that I noticed. I’ve been telling folks for a while now that we’ve got to go after the younger generation. Whenever I speak with youth the Jr. High group is the one segment that lights up. They’re the group that I’ll get the most interaction from, good and bad. (Which, by the way, the “bad” is a good thing to me so there really is no “bad”!) It doesn’t bother me if they disagree. If I can challenge them to think about why they believe what they say they believe it will usually lead to some good conversations which is evangelism!
Did you notice where the majority of the feedback came from? Not one 9th, 10th or 11th graders and only one 12th grader. The rest were the Jr. High School youth. This has been my experience over and over again. The High Schoolers are much more difficult to reach. IF WE REACH those Jr. Highers, maybe we won’t lose them as High Schoolers and College students.