Using XP3 in a Small Church (Part 1): The Big Picture

The XP3 blog is all about you, the student ministry leader. That’s why we love it when we’re able to share helpful ideas and insights straight from student pastors and leaders like you. If you would like to contribute in a future post, send us an email.

By Tim Van Dalen

Anyone who works with students has a huge job to do. If you have worked with students for even one week you know this is a massive undertaking. And the stakes are high!

Almost everything in our culture is working to pull students away from God and faith. Our students live in a time that is increasingly antagonistic against God, faith, and the Bible. It is difficult for them to navigate their faith when all around them are messages telling them, “Live life the way you want,” and “If you believe it is true then it is for you.” And with the vast technological developments this generation has experienced, they are being bombarded with these messages so much more than any generation before them. That reality can discourage anyone who works with students, but remember, what you are attempting to do is the only thing that can change a student’s eternal destiny. You have the opportunity to have an impact in their lives that will last forever. You have an opportunity to impact their faith!

Maybe that last statement seems a bit overwhelming. But don’t worry, you are not alone in this. There are two important influences in a student’s life: the church and their family.

No one has more influence in the life of a student than their parents do. Parent spend about 3,000 hours per year with their student. Those of us working with students through our local church only get about 40 hours per year. Both of these are important influences and can accomplish a lot in the life of a student. But when these two influences are combined, their potential to impact a student’s life and faith increases exponentially.

Two combined influences always have a greater impact then two separate influences.

What it looks like to partner with parents might look different at every church, but it is a key component to an effective student ministry. It may sound daunting, even outside your scope of ministry, but it is easier than you may think. XP3 provides some simple tools to help parents understand what their students are learning at church and gives them the opportunity to continue the conversation with them at home.

If you are starting to feel overwhelmed, don’t be! The task is huge and we all need help doing it better. In fact, to accomplish this task we need a great team behind us equipping us to have maximum impact in a student’s life.

If you are like me, you are probably thinking, “There is no way I can gather a large enough team to do all that needs to be done!” But that is another great aspect of XP3—you get an entire team of other youth workers, curriculum developers, writers, and youth culture experts, all helping you connect with and impact students and their families. So let me encourage you to give XP3 a try. They can help you to make a difference in the next generation.

This post is part one of five in a series of posts called Using XP3 in a Small Church. Here’s what’s coming up in this series:


  • Part 1: The Big Picture
  • Part 2: Leading through Change
  • Part 3: Partnering with Parents
  • Part 4: Lead Small
  • Part 5: Presentation Matters
Tim is the Family Ministry Pastor at Cocalico Community Church in Reinhold, PA. He has been working with kids-college students in various capacities for more than 15 years. Tim enjoys doing ministry alongside his wife, Jen, who oversees the Preschool environment for 3-5 year olds at CCC. They have 3 kids, Kaylee, Ashlyn & Josiah. Tim enjoys reading fiction, watching movies, soccer and the Steelers! To get in touch with Tim, connect with him on Twitter or Instagram.