Research tells us that gender-specific organizations provide a healthy learning environment, particularly for teenage boys. Challengers offers teenage boys an opportunity to grow in their understanding of God, themselves, and others in an all-male environment. Challengers experiences help boys develop dynamic relationships with God, leading them to make missions a continuing part of their lives.
Experiences in Challengers help students become aware that while God wants every person to know of His love and decide to have a relationship with God through Christ, there are still people in the world who don't know anything about God's love. Involvement in Challengers leads students to progress from a focus on self to a focus on others. Students learn the missions concepts of praying, giving, and doing missions. Through Challengers, a foundation is set for missions for a lifetime.
Missions education teaches that God is active and working in the world today. Challengers helps boys learn that they can be a part of God's work in the world. The boys also come to understand that the world is bigger than their community.
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.
Challengers is designed to be led by godly men who will use the opportunity to not only educate young men about missions, but also mentor them in their day to day lives. But do adults do it all? Absolutely not! A good student organization has strong adult leadership but also provides opportunities for students to assist in planning, coordinating, and organizing according to their interests, abilities, and skills. Members of Challengers should be given responsibility for specific projects, studies, or events. Challengers learn and grow by being actively and integrally involved in all aspects of the organization.
During a meeting, Challengers participate in missions experiences related to praying for missions, doing missions, learning about missions, and developing a missions lifestyle.
The experiences embrace these six elements of Challengers: biblically-based, action-oriented, relationship-based, learner-focused, accountability-based, and missions driven.
Each month Challengers focuses on the work of a missionary in North America or an international country. Students learn through age appropriate Bible studies and hand-on activities. Many activities in Challengers help students learn about cultural aspects of the missionaries' work. Students learn by hearing missions stories and using Bible thoughts related to missions. Challengers are given the opportunity to pray for missions, give to missions, and do missions. Some meetings may be devoted to working on or to planning special projects.
Leaders can encourage boys to develop their leadership skills by guiding them to participate and accept leadership according to their age and experience.
When do Challengers meet?
One of the great things about Challengers is its flexibility. Challengers can be an organization, an emphasis within your total youth program, or your young people on mission!
If your church has a Challengers organization, you may want to meet weekly. Certainly, there's more than enough material for your group in the Challengers Leader
plan book. You might give time each week to a particular area, combining areas that seem to go naturally together. Or you may make the missions project your focus each month and structure the weekly meetings in such a way that everything you do informs the project.
For Challengers organizations, weekly meetings are a great idea, but Challengers can be a once-a-month group meeting as well. Over the course of the year, you'll want to give your teenages different ways of looking at and being inivolved in missions.
Even greater flexibility is available when Chalengers is integrated in the total youth ministry progran of your church. Elements from the Challengers Leader
plan book can be interspersed into regularly-scheduled youth meetings, Sunday School classes, Bible studies, or other programs, retreats, etc. With the number of learning opportunities provided, you can use one idea each week for the full year. You don't necessarily have to follow the plans in order. Choose the material that fits what your young people are studying in other areas of their lives and put a mission spin on the hot topic! In this way, you'll be making missions relevant to the students.
Where do leaders get their ideas?
The annual Challengers Leader
plan book is your cirriculum piece. It contains the entire curriculum you need for a full year. The Challengers Leader
plan book follows an annual emphasis to provide a new look each year. The themes and "lesson plans" change from year to year because youth need variety and adult leaders do too!
What other resources do Challengers and their leaders need?
WMU Year Book for the current year is an essential resource that gives a preview of study materials and special projects for the year, plus a list of Challengers resources and information about WMU ministries.
Other materials for youth, such as ministry ideas books, spiritual growth helps, and Challengers identity items, are also available.
To order any of the resources list above, go to www.wmustore.com
or call WMU Customer Service at 1-800-968-7301.
What else do Challengers do?
Ministry projects: Find ideas for ministry projects in Challengers Leader. Other projects may arise in response to needs in your community. Churchwide ministry projects may call for help from Challengers groups. Often Challengers organizations like to work with Acteens (WMU missions education organization for teen girls) and the youth minister to include all youth in a ministry project. Remember to include time for planning and training no matter what the project.
Challengers groups often participate in summer missions trips, both national and international. For more information or to explore possibilities, contact WMU Volunteer Connection at 205-991-4097 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Special events: Associational and state Challengers events can provide opportunities for youth from several churches to meet together for camps, retreats, or other activities. Churches sometimes plan ministry projects that youth can participate in together.
Challengers Identity Items
Challengers identity items are available from LifeWay Specialty Imprints. Call 1-800-443-8032 or visit lifeway.com/specialtyimprints
to find a complete selection. Supplies are limited.
Challengers Advancement and Recognition
The purpose of the Challenger advancement plan is to provide incentive and recognition for young men who pursue a missions lifestyle under the Lordship of Christ. Incentives and awards are built into the system to recognize and reward godly obedience.
The pratical side of advancement falls to the leader to help guide the Challenger and hold him accountable for the missions exploration he undertakes and the missions education to which he commits. The advancement process is also the leader's opportunity to mentor his Challengers further and encourage them toward spiritual maturity and the pursuit of holiness.
A Challenger who is doing the advancement plan is expected to be active in his Challengers group, participating in the majority of his Challengers group meetings. In addition to this minimum requirement, Challengers are expected to successfully complete the following activities to satisfy the 600 hours required for advancement recognition.
Challengers Grades 7-10 Advancement
1. Complete 12 Bible study sessions, and complete approved independent study in evangelism, missions, personal development, and/or adventure each year. Subject of study should have a demonstrated tie to desired outcomes approved by the Challengers leader. Challengers may undertake as many pre-approved mission studies in these categories as they desire within a year.
2. Participate in at least four missions or ministry projects each year.
Challengers Grade 11 Advancement
1. Complete 12 Bible study sessions and complete approved independent study in evangelism, missions, personal development, and/or adventure during the year. Subject of study should have a demonstrated tie to desired outcomes approved by the Challengers leader. Challengers may undertake as many pre-approved mission studies in these categories as they desire within a year.
2. Participate in at least three missions or ministry projects in the year.
3. Plan and participate in leadership of at least one missions or ministry project in the year.
Challengers Gradre 12 Advancement
1. Complete 12 Bible study sessions and complete approved independent study in evangelsim, personal development, and/or adventure during the year. Subject of study should have a demonstrated tie to desired outcomes approved by the Challengers leader. Challengers may undertake as many pre-approved mission studies in these categories as they desire within a year.
2. Participate in at least two missions or ministry projects in the year.
3. Plan and participate in leadership of at least two missions or ministry projects in the year.
These Bible studies examine the lives of missional men and women of God. They are an excellent resource for group or individual study or to use with the Challengers advancement plan.
With the successful completion of 600 hours of mission service and mission study (in any combination) Challengers are eligible to receive the Challengers National Award.
Upon the successful completion of 800 hours of mission service and mission study (in any combination) Challengers are eligible to receive the Challengers National Leadership Award (600+200=800).
Additionally, Challengers in 12th grade may volunteer to complete an in-depth study of a mission subject and produce a 6,000-word research paper on the topic. The successful completion of the Challengers mission seminar and research report will entitle the Challenger to receive the Challengers National Award of Excellence.
Challengers interested in pursuing college scholarships are strongly encouraged to complete the requirements for the Challengers National Award of Excellence.
Subjects for undertaking the Challengers National Award of Excellence seminar and research report include:
- Southern Baptist Convention Missions
- Cooperative Program
- Annie Armstrong
- Lottie Moon
- A History of Southern Baptists Missions
- The Role of the Local Church in Missions
- The Role of the Association in Missions
- The Role of State and National Conventions in Missions
- History of the International Mission Board
- History of the North American Mission Board
- History of the Women's Missionary Union
- History of the Laymen's Missionary Movement
- Education in Missions
- The Role of SBC Seminaries in Missions
- The Effect of Technology on Missions
Additional projects may be undertaken for recognition for missions involvement. Upon the successful completion of a week long missions experience in the United States or Canada, Challengers are eligible to receive the Challengers North American Missions Award. World Changers (world-changers.net) and PowerPlant (power-plant.net) are potions for this missions experience. Challengers who successfully complete a week-long international missions experience are eligible for the Challengers International Missions Award.
Challengers groups, leaders, churches, associations, and state and national offices are welcome to customize or create their own advancement systems. Customized advancement systems should follow the spirit of the national advancement system and have similar miimum requirements for national recognition.