Challengers® is the WMU® student missions organization for boys in grades 7–12 (or ages 12–17).
Challengers isn’t the name of a group, it is the goal. It’s where we desire our young people to be—on mission with God. As young men plan and participate in missions activities like praying, giving, Bible study, ministry, and witnessing, they become Challengers.
Through Challengers, teenage boys will:
Why does my church need Challengers?
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.
Why is missions education important?
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 own community.
Who can be a Challenger?
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.
Who leads Challengers?
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.
What happens in a Challengers meeting?
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 hands-on activities. Many activities in Challengers help students learn about cultural aspects of the missionaries’ work. Students learn by hearing mission 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 teenagers different ways of looking at and being involved in missions.
Even greater flexibility is available when Challengers is integrated in the total youth ministry program 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 curriculum 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?