If you’ve known me long or been a part of my ministry, you know I tend to emphasize three things. Know the Scriptures. Be a Leader. Live out your faith. The Gospel transforms lives and knowing Scripture will deepen your walk with Christ. God created each person with specific gifts and abilities to accomplish a specific purpose. You reach your full potential when you seek to discover those gifts and use them daily for Christ. Your faith is a personal matter but it’s never private. We are challenged to live out our faith on a daily basis. In my ministry, I have committed to point students and adults to these truths. At each church, I’ve seen them take hold and transform lives. It has been a great joy to see the Gospel at work.
NEXT Worldwide is an organization that takes these truths to a new level. In my first interview, Warren Samuels, the Executive Director of NEXT said, “We challenge students to engage a missional God who demands missional living.” Simply put, learn the mission and live the mission. We want students to learn about God and discover His plans for their lives. Then, we want students to put their faith to work in leadership at their local church and around the world.
Two statistics motivate the goals of NEXT Worldwide –
1.) 70% of people in the world walk to church. Some walk upwards of 10 miles round trip.
2.) Over 80% of students leave the church after they graduate. Most do not return for at least 10-12 years. Many do not return at all.
How do these stats drive what we do? Simply put, NEXT Worldwide focuses on planting churches and developing leaders. For that 70% demographic that walks to church, we want to plant a church closer to them. In their neighborhood or village if we can. For high school and college students, we want them to discover that there is a place for them in the local church. Not just to occupy a seat, but to contribute to a global, Gospel mission. We challenge them to discover what leadership is and what it does. They can put these principles to work in their local church and, more importantly, in their daily lives.
Since 2005, NEXT Worldwide has coordinated 37 church planting campaigns in 9 countries. We have seen 93 churches planted using over 900 students and adults from the US. The greatest statistic is that 5,688 people have made a decision to follow Christ during one of these campaigns. Before we leave that campaign, those people have been connected to an existing local church or a church plant that is starting near their home. Throughout the year, we coordinate trips back to our campaign areas to train pastors and help them strengthen their churches in discipleship and missions. Many of the churches planted early in the NEXT ministry have begun planting churches of their own. NEXT has intentionally developed a long-term strategy in these campaign areas to maximize the Gospel presence and strengthen the local churches.
At NEXT Worldwide, we are fiercely committed to investing in the church [people] in such a way that God gets the glory, churches are established, and disciples are reproduced.
So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to the next generation, your power to all those to come. (Psalm 71:18)
As we proceed along this journey, I covet your prayers that God will continue to favor NEXT Worldwide to accomplish the vision He has given. Our hope is to see students commit to live the mission and to see the Church continue to flourish both in the US and around the world.
grace and peace,
Part 3 – Costa Rica
Part 2 – Out on Faith
Part 1 – Where It All Started