‘See You at the Pole’ should promote yearlong ministry
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – In the weeks following the Sept. 26 “See You at the Pole,” leaders have called youth to share the Gospel and pray for spiritual awakening on school campuses all year long. Pursuing the same end, students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary are learning how to equip youth in their churches to make a yearlong impact on schools throughout the nation.
Although “See You at the Pole” is now an international movement, it began in 1990 with a grassroots prayer movement among youth in Burleson, Texas. The movement was then organized and promoted by Student Discipleship Ministries, under the leadership of its founder and president, Southwestern Seminary graduate Billy Beacham.
In an interview, Beacham said that “See You at the Pole” is an ideal opportunity for teenagers to begin long-term ministry efforts on their campuses. And, according to an Oct. 4 post on the See You at the Pole Facebook page, students must not confine their ministry efforts to one day of prayer.
According to Johnny Derouen, associate professor of student ministry at Southwestern, “See You at the Pole” is valuable because it gives students an opportunity to lead ministry and to be missionaries on their own campuses. It teaches them how to pray for and witness to lost classmates and allows them to see God move. It also builds leadership and shows them how to stand together for the faith despite persecution and peer pressure.
Over the course of its history, “See You at the Pole” has been the foundation for numerous student-led Christian clubs and other opportunities for yearlong ministry at schools across the nation. But, according to Derouen, there has been a recent decline of Christian teenagers who are willing and equipped to lead these ministries.
Richard Ross, professor of student ministry at Southwestern, agreed with this assessment. In recent years, he said, churches throughout the nation have put less emphasis on training teenagers to make an impact on their school campuses.
“We have fewer youth ministers right now that are calling out and equipping their teenagers to establish Christian ministries on their school campuses,” Ross said. “There is a reduced focus on that among our youth ministers.”
Instead, Ross added, many youth ministers place more emphasis upon ministry within the church building, a trend that reflects the practices of church ministry at large.
“Youth ministers placing more focus on programming on church property,” he said, “is symptomatic of the entire church, which is shifting focus from kingdom impact to entertaining and taking care of members at church.”
According to Ross, this trend may in turn decrease the impact of “See You at the Pole,” which should feed into and flow from a “full year strategy for impacting the school campus.” At Southwestern, student-ministers-in-training “learn very specific strategies and plans” for equipping youth to impact their campuses.
“We show them how to train teenagers to get approval for Equal Access clubs and groups,” Ross said. “We show them how to lead those meetings every week … and give them a plan for sustaining that focus through an entire school year. So our students are graduating with a clear understanding about how they would impact schools.”
“Our perspective here,” he added, “is that we call teenagers to see their school as their mission field.”