Walking by Faith With a Good Coach
by Jamie Clifton
From the time I started teaching public high school, my prayer was to have an impact on students’ lives in eternal ways. My school is huge and diverse. I knew there had to be teens who were already following Jesus in my school, but there was only so much I could do to find and connect with them apart from God dropping them in my lap. I had to wait on God. Finally during my fourth year of teaching, a parent and I connected at parent-teacher conferences, and she gave me the go ahead to speak with her daughter about starting a Christian group at the high school. The following week, I was scheduling a time to meet with her student when another student overheard our conversation. “What kind of club are you talking about? Bible study? I’m a Christian, can I be a part of it?” After years of desperate prayer for God to connect me to one Christian student, God answered with two students in one week, and a third soon after that. The three excited students and I sat down to hammer out the details of the student group that they would lead and I would sponsor. They agreed that the point of the group was two-fold: to grow in their knowledge of and faith in God, and to make it a place that was open to all students, religious or not. They decided on a name, a meeting time, a Bible verse, and designed posters to put throughout the school. Praise God, they were ready to make an impact!
Our first few months of meetings went so well! I had become a believer through Cru in college, so I had plenty of resources and materials to offer when my students asked for them. One thing I didn’t realize I could have access to was coaching through Cru. I got connected with Scott Livermore, a ministry coach with the high school ministry of Cru, right at a time when the group was getting hard to manage among all my other responsibilities. It felt lonely to be the only adult who had a burden of prayer for every detail of this growing group of teenagers and their impact on their high school. Scott was able to be “in it” with me from afar. His prayer over my school and my walk with God has been invaluable these last few years.
Scott’s experience helped me problem-solve when I had kids who became less reliable in their roles as leaders in the group. His creativity helps me create a fun and attractive space for the kids to enjoy. His knowledge of legal boundaries and his wisdom of how to best affect kids’ hearts while staying in my role as teacher and group sponsor help me use what I have been entrusted with for the Kingdom of God. Through Scott’s coaching, we have been able to put on Christmas parties with Christmas tree decorating contests and Gospel readings. We have done candy-filled Easter Egg hunts followed by a speaker talking about how God put “Easter Eggs” in his life in order to lead him to Himself. The discipleship that Scott has graciously extended to me trickles down to my students in many ways. Students have come, invested their time, and left during these few years, so I am grateful to have a coach who sees the high school movement from a birds eye view along with me, trusting that God will provide exactly what and who He chooses for Cru High School each year.
This past year has been a challenge for everyone, but maybe a bit more so for classroom teachers and our students. The pandemic has caused us to rethink many things. The same is true in our outreach to students. We have continued to meet virtually when we couldn’t meet in person. It has been encouraging to see how the concerns and anxieties our students have been experiencing has led to many meaningful conversations and tremendous ministry opportunities. Who knows what God will do through this?
Cru’s Coaching Center stands ready to help you navigate a Win, Build, Send strategy. It looks like this: “Win” – sharing your faith (peers & potentially students), “Build” – grow believers so they can bear fruit (discipleship) and “Send” – empowering those believers to be God’s ambassador wherever they go. They also offer encouragement and prayer for those they coach. Reach out to them and one of their coaches will do a situational assessment with you to see if they can help you see some of what I saw take place at my school! You can reach our Coaching Center here: https://www.cru.org/communities/hs/get-connected/. There is a form to fill out to express your interest. To the question about “Tell Me More”, press the “other” button and type in Educators. You can also reach my coach by calling: 407-443-8188.