Written by The Feed Team

on March 4, 2024

By Lauren Prescott

In our little corner of South Dallas, Red Oak High School could not be more different than Ferris High School. One is in a suburban area, while the other is surrounded by a rural culture. Red Oak has around 2,300 high school students, while Ferris contains less than 800. One community is full of homes from the 80’s, while the other has new homes built daily. 

What these very different communities have in common is this: a year ago, they both had almost no presence in our youth ministry. Now, not only do they have a significant place in our youth ministry, but the Gospel is shared on their school campuses every week. People are getting saved, baptized, and empowered virtually every week from these schools. We have seen REVIVAL on these campuses. 

Why is this? Why the drastic change? The answer is simple. To borrow language from our predecessor and youth ministry legend, Joseph Kellogg, God compelled us to “take new ground.” 

There’s a famous passage in 1 Chronicles 4:10 that says, Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!… And God granted his request.”

That’s a bold prayer! Are you praying bold prayers like Jabez? When we think about enlarging our territory, we may automatically think about a new program, initiative, or event. Perhaps you’d like to start a conference, a student leadership program, or small groups. Maybe you’re picturing the empty seats in the room during your services (you know, the ones that no one EVER sits in). You want them to be full! 

None of those things are bad, but I wonder if the territory that God is calling you to take is OUTSIDE of your church rather than within. We talk all the time in churches about unreached people groups in foreign countries. But often, we miss the unreached people groups in our backyard. We may even think to ourselves, “Wow! We don’t have any students from (fill in the blank)…guess it’s just not the season!” But let’s clear that up. We are called to shepherd our communities. He placed us wherever we are to make a difference in the world, not just inside our church walls. 

The enemy has staked out every school campus as his territory. He’s claimed it as his own, along with the hurting and broken lives that each campus represents. If you spend more than two minutes on a school campus, you will clearly see the enemy’s attack. He wants to win this next generation. And yet, our role is to take back what the enemy has claimed as his own. It’s time to take new ground. So, let’s get practical. What do we do to take new ground when it comes to campus ministry? Here are some lessons we learn from Jesus. 

PRAY to plow the field. || All great movements of God start with prayer. Leonard Ravenhill, a profound evangelist during WWII, said, “If we had more sleepless nights in prayer, there would be fewer souls to have a sleepless eternal night in hell.”  

 Matthew 9:36-37 says, 

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Jesus commands us to pray for the harvest yet to come. Create a consistent pattern of prayer for a specific school or community with your team and current students. Breakthrough is on the other side of your prayers.

Be PRESENT to plant the seed. || Our presence ushers in the presence of God. What we know about Jesus’ ministry is this: he did not wait around in a synagogue. He was in constant pursuit of people by traveling to a variety of communities to teach and heal.

Drop off Gatorades at practices, show up at FCA, volunteer at the school, and partner with a parachurch ministry like Varsity Leadership Academy ( Get on the campus in any way you can! Watch the ripple effect! 

Train PEOPLE to harvest. || As ministers, it’s easy to think we don’t have time for campus ministry and getting into the community. But we don’t have a time issue; we have a leadership development issue. The goal should be to have leaders ready to steward the fire that presence has sparked. 

In Matthew 10, directly after Jesus encourages his disciples to pray for harvest workers, he sends them out to be the harvest workers! Matthew 10:1 says, Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. “

He then instructs them on how to fulfill the mission. What is he doing? He’s MULITPLYING his efforts. 

You personally cannot reach every school in your country. It’s unlikely that you can even reach every group (band, athletes, theatre, choir) at one school. But you CAN multiply yourself into others who can help steward the harvest. 

Three days before our home group season started, the growing group of Ferris kids confronted us, saying, “If you don’t start a small group for us, we’ll start our own.” In three days, we recruited random leaders, found a host home, and prayed for the best. It’s now one of our fastest-growing small groups, and we will have to multiply it into two groups next semester. You better believe that I will be better prepared next semester with leaders! 

PREPARE students to lead the way. || We frequently say, “A youth ministry is at its best when it’s led by the youth.” That does not mean students do whatever they want. Ministries thrive when students are contributors, not just consumers

We see Jesus model this with the demoniac in Luke 8 and the Samaritan woman in John 4. In both instances, these people were freed and forgiven, then immediately led others to Jesus. 

Whether it’s students praying for their teams at games, launching a Jesus Club on their campus, or sharing the Gospel at the lunch table—create some way for them to be involved once they receive Jesus. This is Ephesians 4:12 at work! They will reach their friends better than we ever could.

We have an obligation to take back the enemy’s territory. Let this infiltrate your prayers, strategy, sermons, and conversations. Our heart for our community should beat loudly enough for our whole church to hear. Watch what Jesus will do in your community as you commit to take new ground!

As for us in Oaks Youth, Life High School, you’re next.

Similar Posts
Similar Posts

Subscribe to Feed

Sign up to receive emails for Feed Community Updates

Small Group Resources


The Greek word for church is ekklesia,  “called out.” This series will invite your students to consider just how awesome it is to be a part of

God and Justice

In this four-lesson series, students will learn how justice and righteousness are an integral part of who God is.

personal character

Personal Character

The four lessons in this series show students both the faults of and reason for humanity – providing direction for walking away from sin and


The four lessons in this series explore the concept of creation – how God created all things and why He created humanity.

Work as Worship

Do your students ever wonder what it means to have a God-given calling or purpose? Do they think about how their daily work has the

Similar Posts


Written by Joseph Kellogg  There are many definitions for the phrase “Play the Long Game”. Mostly, they describe this idea of making small, calculated decisions that

Small Group Resources

What is Love?

Everybody desires to love and be loved, yet “love” is one of the most misunderstood topics in our culture. The narratives about this topic that

Belief and Practice

Packed with eight lessons, this series explores key concepts such as the identity of Jesus and the meaning of life, prayer, and baptism.