Real. Bold. Raw.
Youth pastor Tom Breckwoldt isn't so much about growing his teen gatherings as he is about presenting the gospel to young people.
"It's not about come and see; it's about go and tell," Breckwoldt says, and that's his whole philosophy in evangelizing teens, choosing to equip them to disciple their peers rather than handling the ministry alone.
His youth group—SWAG (Student Warriors Awakening Generation), part of Lake Mary Church in Lake Mary, Florida, which was started as an Every Nation church plant at a local high school—is igniting revival among campuses in Central Florida. Every Nation establishes churches and campus ministries worldwide.
"If you look at a herd of rhinoceroses, they're called a crash," he jokes, "and if you look at why they're called a crash, they can run 30 miles per hour and they can only see 30 feet in front of them. So I look at us like we're kind of like a herd of rhinos. ... We just go, and God just goes nuts through it!"
In nearly two years of activity, Breckwoldt has seen his students experience radical conversions and spread the love of Jesus to their families, adding their parents as disciples rather than the other way around. The radical conversions are similar to Breckwoldt's own story.
Saved only three years, Breckwoldt left a lucrative career in the fitness industry after a prophetic word to go into full-time ministry.
Lake Mary Church Pastor Shaddy Soliman, who led Breckwoldt to God and discipled him in the Word, encouraged Breckwoldt's evangelistic gifts by sending him out into campus ministry. Breckwoldt eventually took over the church's youth group.
When Breckwoldt took over, he said God told him how his story would change the face of the church by the way of the students.
"He said, 'Tom, the way I'm using you to transform these kids, I'm going to use these kids to transform these parents.'"
There was a point when the parents of 80 percent of the students in the youth group didn't go to church, Breckwoldt says. "Through the student, God is using the heart to change the dynamic of the family, which is really unheard of."
In one year of operation, Breckwoldt went from ministering on one campus to five and ministering to more than 200 students weekly. He's seen more than 200 salvations in a local detention center and oversees 30-50 student one-on-one discipleships.
He's driven by a vision that came out of a fast earlier this year. In the vision, God showed Breckwoldt the book of Nehemiah and of walls being torn down and rebuilt.
"God just said, 'Tom, My walls have been torn down on the campuses, and I'm calling you to go back and rebuild them.' ... Everywhere I saw Jerusalem in the story, I saw campuses, and Nehemiah was just bold ... and God sent His army with him."
Now God's army is going with Breckwoldt's students. These are students who weren't just on the fence about Jesus—many were avowed atheists or even convicts in a detention center. But Breckwoldt and his students were unafraid of sharing the raw reality of the gospel, not by "Christianese" language typical in evangelism. As a result, the Holy Spirit caught fire in their lives.
"I just want to watch students go and spread it everywhere," Breckwoldt says. "Just wait a couple years from now. There's a revival breaking out on these campuses, and we're going to see it."
The ones often leading the charge are often the newer Christians, those who are totally open to going out and doing what God has called them to do.
Breckwoldt's model is to follow the Spirit and disciple.
All of the church's SWAG small groups are led by students, he says, because it's not about being perfect; it's about being willing.
"The Spirit of God, the way [He] moves through this ministry, it blows my mind," Breckwoldt says, "for Him to take such ordinary people."
Jessilyn Justice is an assistant news editor for Charisma Media.
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