Challengers

Missionary Prayer Calendar

July 15
Illinois: Barnicio Cureton
Kentucky: Carlos De La Barra
Louisiana: Adam Beach
Maryland: Nehemiah Cole, Ken Witcher
Massachusetts: Kenneth Esterhuizen
Mississippi: Lisa Selby
New Mexico: James Duke
Ohio: Chad Frank
South Carolina: Adam Spurlock
Utah: Josh DeLoach
Washington: Phil Peters
Central Asian Peoples: AM, MG
East Asian Peoples: CR, JH
European Peoples: MS
South Asian Peoples: Stacie Kesecker, AS, DW, PS, SS
Southeast Asian Peoples: ET, TE
Chaplains • Volunteers
Retired Missionaries

Challengers FAQs

Who can be a Challenger?

All boys, ages 12–17 or in grades 7–12, who want to participate can be members of Challengers. Church membership is not required. If your church has a Challengers organization, boys can join Challengers simply by expressing an interest in belonging. In fact, Challengers can include youth from the same church or from different churches in a community. The group can meet at the church, on a school campus, in a community center, or at a ministry site. You may even have multiple groups based on age, location, interests, or schedules.

If your church uses Challengers material interjected into an ongoing aspect of your youth ministry program, teens can participate by virtue of their place in your total program. They will learn as they are exposed to the material in the context of growing Christian discipleship.

 

Where do leaders get their ideas?

Ukuleles, Gratitude, and the Presence of God

There are certainly typical Thanksgiving week activities—traveling to visit family members, making pies ahead of time and putting them in the freezer, cleaning the house in preparation for company, and making gratitude trees, jars, leaves, banners, and so on—as a way to visibly express our thankfulness. And then there are the not-so-typical Thanksgiving-week activities. Like the ukulele concert I attended last night, for instance.

A friend of mine plays the ukulele and has taken group lessons the past couple of years. Each November the group has offered a concert. Several of us have gone to support our ukulele-playing friend, and to enjoy the concert of a group of 10–12 ukulele players. Not only do they play in concert, but they play fun, popular songs, including some oldies. Audience members are given lyrics sheets and invited to sing along. And to my surprise, the audience has enthusiastically participated in these concert experiences.

5 Things Every Graduate Needs to Hear

The month of May usually finds students across the country with only one thing on their mind: Summer vacation! But for many, this yearly pause comes with an added weight of expectation.

Graduation. The end game of the elementary, the medal of honor for the middle schooler, and the holy grail of the high school senior. For many, this long awaited day is fast approaching. But before these happy few take off for parts unknown, make sure they take a little time-honored wisdom with them as they go.

 

Change Is Coming

Truly, graduation marks the end of one journey and the beginning of another. Peeking out from underneath the shelter of family and the security of childhood can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be scary. Dive in to the “new.” Don’t be afraid to live into this time of transformation!

 

Rise to the Challenge

You got this! Yes, “adulting” is hard. Yes, you will make mistakes. Yes, you will find that the world is a lot more complicated than you thought. But you can make it! When you fall, get back up again.

 

Our Hope Elevates as Christ Ascends

Have you ever heard of the Friend Zone? It’s that awkward period of time in a hopeful relationship where you know someone better than an acquaintance, but you just haven’t made the jump to saying “I like, like you,” yet. If you’re like me, you’re all too familiar with this in-between stage of a relationship.

The truth is, life is full of these types of circumstances. Middle school students probably know this best. They aren’t kids anymore, but they’re still in the early stages of those crazy teenage years. High school seniors also know what this is like: Many have been accepted by the college of their dreams, but graduation is still so far away!

We are all used to living in this liminal space. Like standing in a doorway before entering a room. Not coming in, not going out. I’ve heard it said that Christ has begun a new work in the world but we have yet to see that work accomplished. We live in the “already but not yet.”

Be On Mission during Summer Vacation

Summer Missions

Summertime is often a time when things slow down. The kids are out of school, the days are longer, and there is often a feeling in the air of relaxation and rejuvenation.

Do you notice this in your church, as well? Attendance is usually lower during the summer months because families take vacations at various times. Church activities might be canceled in favor of other events. Organizations within your church might take the summer months off so nobody misses anything important. Or your church might adjust programming to a summer schedule.

No matter where your church falls in the variety of summer schedules, it makes sense to use this time to take a break, step back, and prepare for a fresh, clean slate in the fall. That might mean meeting in a different location or trying something different from time to time.

Regardless, we need to remember that we never really get to take a break from growing in our relationships with Christ. If you are a youth leader and want to help your students continue to grow in their faith, even during the summer, why not try a few of these ideas?

The Best Mother’s Day Gift

Mother's Day

If you’re a mom, you might wonder why every day can’t be Mother’s Day. Being a parent is tough work, no matter what that looks like for you. Unfortunately, there is only one day allotted on the calendar to celebrate moms, but we have to be a mom those other 364 days, too.

Have you ever considered motherhood as a missions field? It’s messy, filled with long days and daunting tasks. There are some really high points, like the first time you hold your newborn in your arms, and there are some really low points, like when your teenager argues with you for the 900th time.

As moms, we need to remind ourselves that we are on a missions field everywhere we go, modeling Christ for those little people who call us Mom.

This year, I will celebrate my very first Mother’s Day, so I am no expert. My son is almost one, and I know I have so much to learn as he grows up. It’s helpful knowing that I have a sacred job, a job that I do not take for granted.

Of my many jobs as a mom, the most important is to model Christ for my son and always point him to Christ.

Spring Is In The Air: In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

Spring is often considered to be a time of renewal. The grass grows, trees begin to bloom, and pollen fills the air. (Aaaachoo!) The whole earth is waking up from a long winter’s nap.

We also enter into a period of change. We shake out the dust and stale air of winter from our homes in preparation for the activities of summer to begin. We break out our warm weather wear (including our ill-fitting swimsuits) and throw our heavy overcoats and decorative Christmas sweaters to the moths.

But if you live in the Southeast, odds are that Spring may not come as smoothly as you might expect. One day, the sun is shining and the birds are singing, but the next day the temperature drops 20 degrees and you’re breaking out the earmuffs!

Maybe that’s just how transitions go. Rarely in our own lives, do we ever experience a smooth transition. Renewal is full of fits and starts before finally settling in to something new. As Student leaders, have you seen this to be true?

All Things Big and Small

When I think of missions, my first thought is a big trip taken overseas. I think of going to Africa or Asia, eating strange new foods, forging new relationships and working hard, and meeting the needs of people who have never heard of Jesus.

Then I look around me and realize there are people right outside my front door who have never heard of Jesus. I realize that anywhere I am is a missions field if I’ll just let God use me as a missionary.

It’s hard to remember that we are called to be missionaries as soon as we accept Jesus into our hearts. It’s hard to be intentional about sharing His love with others as we go about our sometimes mundane day-to-day tasks.

We don’t have to pack a giant backpack and head to Africa in order to be missionaries. In fact, there are over 269 million lost people in North America, so we need to consider taking off our giant backpacks and reaching out to our many neighbors who are lost.

Between Your Own Two Feet

Answer the following questions:

  • Where were you born?
  • What is your street address?
  • In what city and state do you live?
  • Where do you buy groceries?
  • Where do you bank?
  • Where do you go to church?
  • Where do you get gas?
  • Where do your children/grandchildren go to school?
  • Where do you get your hair cut?
  • Where do you spend your free time?
  • Where do you work?
  • Where do you go to the doctor? Dentist? Pharmacy?
  • Where do you get your car repaired?
  • Where is your missions field?

Did the last question cause you to hesitate? Did all the questions other than the last one have what seemed like obvious answers, but then the last one made you stop and think? How did you respond to it, or did you skip that question in your mind and move on to the non-question part of the blog?

Where is your missions field? Recently I heard Jill Briscoe speak at an event. Part of her focus was on recognizing our personal missions fields. And this is how she described it: Your missions field is right where you are, “between your own two feet.”

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