Report from Daniel, a youth pastor in Little Elm, Texas.
When I was first asked to take over the student ministry in my church, our Senior Pastor told me “When the youth get activated, the whole church will get activated.” I didn’t completely understand how true that statement was until a couple of weeks ago.
In December 2011 we launched our first I am Second youth group. It didn’t take long for our students to get behind the groups. A few weeks after our first group launched, six students told me they wanted to take I am Second into their public schools. So in early 2012 we launched I am Second in our local Junior High and High School. Soon 35 new students had joined those school groups.
We now have 8 groups. Each group caters to different types of people. About 30 kids have joined our youth group because of groups our students are doing outside the church.
One group amazes me because they consistently have over 25 kids attending each week. This group has inspired the parents to get involved. Each week 4-6 of the parents team up to host the group and provide dinner.
The whole church is getting behind these youth groups. For example, the parents are wearing I am Second bracelets and t-shirts. Their impact is spreading, too, for now we are finalizing a strategy to launch I am Second groups for the men’s and women’s ministries. Several new families have come to our church because their kids started coming to one of the Second groups.
After we train more leaders, we plan to expand the groups in the schools. The schools have given us permission to put up banners during lunch to get more exposure for the Second groups. So we’ll have an official launch soon when these new leaders are ready.
There is nothing more powerful than young people passionately telling others about what Jesus has done in their lives. Our Pastor was right. “When the youth get activated, the whole church will get activated.”
“I teach United States history to 11th graders at our local public high school. My classes are filled with diverse groups of students. I take my responsibility to prepare these young adults for state testing and graduation very seriously. I also believe real teachers present more than just academic educational materials – we have a God-given platform to reach the next generation and help them break life’s chains. I also take that opportunity very, very seriously.
“I have been showing an I am Second film each Friday in my classes. I pray all week about which one I should feature. God has been faithful to impress upon me just the right one.
“Many of my students listen to hip hop music, so one of the first films I screened was about Lecrae. I have 2 boys that started listening to Lecrae, and they are now learning about Christ through his music’s message. Our school is known as an athletic powerhouse, so the videos from well-known athletes are particularly relevant while presenting positive role models that themselves have become Second. As we came upon the holiday commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, I showed the Ken Hutcherson film. What a powerful testimony about how hate and prejudice can be tamed by Christ. You could have heard a pin drop in my classroom at the end.
“Recently I screened the Ashley Rawls I am Second film. When it was over, my students started asking questions about Jesus and salvation, about grace and mistakes . . . . Wow! At their request I shared the gospel of Jesus with that class.
“I can clearly see God is working in my students’ lives. I Am Second is helping me share about He who is First in a greater way!”
– A “Second” 11th Grade Teacher
Are there people you “teach” formally or informally? It’s easy to share I am Second films via Facebook, Twitter, and the Email App. Just click “Share This” on the bottom right corner of each film page at iamsecond.com.
Everyone at our leaders’ conference sat in stunned silence as the young college student shared these words. Nancy was coming regularly to a Second group at the Univ. of North Texas. She told us how she studied the Bible with the others in the group, and even made commitments about how she was going to do what it said. But she freely admitted that she still was wrestling with whether to put her faith in Christ, particularly because of some of her lifestyle decisions.
So when asked why she was involved in the group, even though she was not sure she believed what was being discussed, Nancy said, “Why wouldn’t I want to go where I feel loved? I’m not against Christ, I’m just not sure about Him.”
How many other people around us are like that? Just waiting for someone to show enough interest to engage them in the conversation?
About a week ago Duche spoke to in the inmates involved with I am Second at the Dawson State jail. After presenting the Gospel, Duche left all the inmates one of his cards that had his story of transformation from drug dealer to Christ follower. Three days later, Duche got a facebook message from a 17 year old girl, named Michelle (name changed for privacy), saying that her mother had seen Duche in prison, had sent her his card and told her to contact Duche via facebook. She said she liked Duche’s story and she would like to meet Duche someday, but she knew that would probably never happen. She was content with a new facebook friend.
Duche looked up her facebook profile and saw that she was from Lubbock, TX. I am Second had an event in Lubbock at Texas Tech partnering with Campus Crusade and Duche invited her to come. He knew this would be awkward for a lonely high school girl to come to an event with hundreds of people she didn’t know, but she came anyway. When Michelle’s father dropped Duche off, the father asked, “What kind of event is this?” Duche gave him an I am Second tract and invited him in, but he said, “No, no, I’ll come back and pick her up.”
“It’s just two days before I get on the road with my friend, Havana, to begin the exciting eight hour drive to Lubbock from College Station. We’re leaving Thursday afternoon to spend the weekend with the Campus Crusade group at Texas Tech. These wonderful people have opened up over a dozen homes for all of us- we’re coming from Texas A&M, UNT, UT Tyler, Oklahoma State, TCU, and Sam Houston State.
Friday afternoon, about 25 A&M students will begin to pull out of their driveways to road-trip up to Tech and join our very-much-missed friends from all these other campuses. So why on earth are we even venturing out on this long drive from College Station to our rivals up at Tech?
I am Emily Lambert. I am on staff with ZOE Ministries (www.zoeland.com) and I work with four other staff members. We focus on middle school, high school, and we now have a college ministry as well. Every Wednesday night is a ZOE Chapter. During a chapter, we hang out for a little bit – play a game/do a skit – announcements + possible video – worship – Phillip speaks – hang out/go home. We have separate middle school and high school chapters on Wednesday, and we have a college Bible study on Sunday nights.
This past summer in July, ZOE went on a mission trip to Costa Rica with a group from Texas. Two girls, Annie White and Ashley Scarbrough were in the group from Texas and just from conversations we had, IA2 came up. At ZOE, we had been aware of the organization and we would sometimes show one of the IA2 Testimonies on Wednesday nights during the high school chapter. But Annie and Ashley brought up how they were starting these IA2 small groups on their college campus. We thought those groups sounded great and we wanted to somehow get ZOE involved.
Howdy! My name is Ashley Scarbrough and I am a sophomore at Texas A&M University. I lead an I Am Second small group, and I am also the Texas A&M I Am Second Small Groups Coordinator.
You know, its crazy. Writing this and thinking back about how God even brought me here. I never knew what I Am Second groups were. Yea, I saw the website, watched the videos, but I never knew there was something more! I am sure God got a kick out of it, because I never would have guessed He would bring me to I Am Second, or bring me to small groups.
Groups…goodness, when I learned about how to lead an I Am Second group, I had no idea I would even be getting involved, let alone become the Small Group Coordinator on my campus! He knows me so well: I love surprises. And God is obviously FULL of surprises! You never know what to expect from Him.
I came to love I Am Second groups quickly, because as soon as I learned the heart behind the groups, I realized God was simply answering my prayers. Being in college, I have come to realize I have many friends that just need Jesus! They need Jesus, not just a religion, not just a church building, but they need the real Jesus living in them. They need to encounter Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and not just sit in a pew, as their mind wander. They need intimacy, which they are so obviously longing for. I was always find myself asking God, “How do I reach them?” And He showed me a way–I Am Second groups.
I Am Second small groups is a simple tool to gather my friends together just to discuss life and God. We get into the Word. I do not have to preach, but I get to listen. We engage and discuss the Bible. It is a comfortable environment, where my friends who have not given Jesus Christ the key to their heart can open up and discuss the Bible too. He provided a way! He answered my prayers and He has given me a way to reach out to those who just won’t do church. Not only that but my I Am Second group doesn’t grow, it multiplies! I have girls I first had in my I Am Second group, now leading their own and reaching out to their own friends who just need Jesus!
Narcissistic, lazy and spoiled are just a few of the characteristics that some may use to describe Generation Y. From social networking sites that are used as virtual ego inflators to the instant-fame obsessed culture, it’s no wonder people have diagnosed the Millennials as “overdosed on self-esteem.”
However, there is a new counterculture movement called I AM SECOND and it has leaked onto the SMU campus. According to their website, the organization is meant to inspire people of all kinds to live for God and for others.
Representatives from the nationwide movement range from athletes like former University of Texas quarterback, Colt McCoy, to American Idol’s Jason Castro, to the every day person.
The movement uses short videos of personal testimonies that deal with the typical struggles of everyday living.
SMU junior James Parker saw the need for a group that empowers students to live for something greater than them—to be second. He decided to begin the first I AM SECOND group early this spring in the Mary Hay Hall.
“I see this [group] not just as a Christian thing, but for each other,” Parker said.
Although James is well-connected with students as a resident advisor and a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, he didn’t know what to expect the first meeting.
“I thought maybe six or seven students would show up, but when I opened the door, it was like a roar,” Parker said.
To his surprise, nearly 30 students showed up at the first meeting.
Perhaps SMU students have their own perceptions of religious based groups, but Parker said that the I AM SECOND group on campus is not what you may think. On the group’s Facebook page is a disclaimer stating, “I AM SECOND is not: a bible study, church group, youth group or whatever.”
Due to the success of the group, four other resident halls now host a discussion group. The meetings consist of watching an I AM SECOND video and then discussing how it relates to your life.
The discussion groups not only talk about students’ personal struggles but how they are able to become second to God.
Group leader Evan Taylor said he envisions the group volunteering together so they can grow closer.
“We are community-based and about each other,” Taylor said.
Freshman Kacey Nelson, a participant in the group agrees that helping others should be something people focus more time on.
“I don’t think people spend enough time helping others,” Nelson said. “It doesn’t even have to be religious.”
Although the I AM SECOND group on campus is rooted in Christian values, the group strives to be inclusive and welcomes people from all religions to attend the meetings.
Nelson said that the group does not allow people to be judgmental and Taylor said students will not feel out of place.
“I just want SMU to know that this is a safe place,” Taylor said “No one would be bashed for their beliefs.”
With a selfless movement like I AM SECOND on the rise, it is unclear as to whether some Generation Y stereotypes are warranted. In fact, the Pew Research Center conducted a report on the values, attitudes and behaviors of Millennials.
The study found that the things Millennials value in life mirror the things older generations value. Family matters most and fame and fortune are much less important.
Journalism professor at SMU, Jake Batsell, also argues against Generation Y stereotypes in his recent blog post titled, “Journalism’s Next Generation: Working with Millennials.” Batsell claims that SMU journalism students actually want to make a difference.
“They want to use their multi-platform storytelling skills to do some good,” Batsell said.
Helping others has certainly become a trend at SMU.
“Two recent SMU grads spent part of last summer reporting and blogging from Romanian orphanages and one of our recent alums helped start an orphanage in Uganda,” wrote Batsell.
There are many different opportunities to ‘be second’ and make a difference at SMU. If you would like to get involved with the I AM SECOND’ group on campus, they hold meetings at Perkins Hall, Mary Hay Hall, Virginia Snider Hall, Shuttles Hall and Morrison-McGinnis Hall.
You can check out their website for SMU students for more information.