Personal invitations fuel evangelistic student ministry
Mobberly Baptist has seen almost weekly salvation decisions since last fall
July 8th, 2019 / By: Tobin Perry / comments
LONGVIEW—When Cat Arce moved from Hallsville High School to Longview High School before her sophomore year, she noticed not many people from her new high school were attending the youth group at Mobberly Baptist Church in Longview.
Arce wanted to change that. She started by inviting the school’s leaders, the boys from the recently crowned 6A state champion football team, to the church’s Wednesday night youth event, called Elevation. Not only did 12 of the football players come to Elevation, but several of them received Christ as their Savior—and they started inviting more friends to attend. Over about eight weeks, students from Longview High School were saved every week.
And it all started with an invitation. As Arce has seen God use her invitation to engage so many others in the school, her confidence has only grown.
“When I see people giving their lives to Christ and I see people you’d never expect to come to church, I know God has huge plans for me,” said the 16-year-old Arce, who is entering her junior year at Longview. “I’ve gotten people to church you’d never think would come, people who say that if they ever stepped foot in church, it would burn down because they were so devilish. Having God use me and give me just the right words at the right time … It is just crazy.”
Arce’s commitment to invite others to her youth group isn’t random. Mobberly Baptist’s high school minister, Michael Curl, regularly encourages students to have at least one friend they’re praying for and inviting to church.
“We push it hard,” Curl said. “There’s an expectation that if you come to Mobberly, if you’re a part of Elevation, you need to be inviting your friends. We put that expectation on them, and then the expectation on the staff is that we’re going to have a quality program that students won’t be embarrassed to bring their friends to. They’re going to have a lot of fun. And then the students know that if they bring their friends, they’re going to have an opportunity to hear the gospel.”
Mobberly Baptist’s youth ministry has seen a 150 percent growth in attendance—counting Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights—since the start of the last school year. Curl says the youth ministry’s growth has come almost exclusively from personal invitations by students to their peers.
“A lot of times we talk about the importance of the gospel and how it can change lives, but whenever students invite their friends and they see God at work, when they see their lives get transformed, there is no excitement like that,” Curl said. “It creates this buzz and this excitement. Suddenly they have another friend they want to see come to Christ. When they see the gospel work, that’s what creates the momentum in our student ministry.”
Mobberly Baptist opens their youth building from 5:30-9 p.m. on Wednesdays for Elevation. They have junior high school programming from 6:30-7:30 p.m. and high school programming from 7:30-8:30 p.m. The youth programming includes both preaching and contemporary worship. Before and after the service, students are encouraged to hang out and play video games, spend time with friends, or finish up their homework with one another. Curl says there has only been one or two Sundays since school started last fall when someone has not received Christ during the Wednesday night Elevation meetings.
An average of 300-350 students from about 16 different area high schools attend Elevation each week. Including Sunday morning youth activities, an average of 500 different students attend Mobberly Baptist activities weekly. During “Friend Day,” the week before Easter, the church had more than 900 students attend. Curl says 150 of those students made professions of faith in Christ.
Mobberly Baptist has also made it a priority to disciple the students who respond to the gospel. After making a decision for Christ, students are given a packet of follow-up information, including a guide that provides them with four weeks of devotional materials. They are encouraged to be baptized and join a small group with peers and an adult leader.
Then the church’s high school student leaders head up discipleship groups among their peers. These groups include two or three students who meet together regularly to pray for one another, and the leaders teach new believers how to journal through a list of scriptures. Students in these groups are also challenged to pray for friends and invite them to church. During the last semester, the church had about 80 teenagers participate in these groups.
For more information about Mobberly Baptist’s youth ministry, visit Mobberly.org/youth.