"We're scheduling about the same number of projects next year as this year, but in fewer locations so we can have a longer and greater impact in many of the cities and towns," said Ben Trueblood, LifeWay's director of student ministries. "By staying longer, we can have more opportunities to change a community, and our students' lives will change as well."
Trueblood said that although a large majority of the locations are still in small and medium-size communities, LifeWay is following the North American Mission Board's lead by focusing more resources on cities NAMB has identified as Send North America cities.
"Small and medium-sized cities like Bonne Terre, Mo., population 7,000, Neptune, N.J., with 5,000 residents, and even North Pole, Alaska, with a population of 2,200, are still very much a part of our plan," Trueblood said. "But the world is coming to our cities, and we must have a greater impact on the great metropolitan areas of the U.S."
Trueblood said many of the World Changers and nearly all of the PowerPlant projects next year will be in NAMB's Send North America cities including New York City, Indianapolis, Chicago and San Francisco.
"Metropolitan areas have tremendous needs and the types of service to meet those needs are endless," said John Bailey, manager of World Changers and PowerPlant. "We are looking to help churches reach more of their community's needs.
"Our hope through this city missions vision is that students will walk away from a World Changers experience with a heart for the culture of that city or town realizing they can truly touch the world from right here in their own country," Bailey said.
LifeWay also announced World Changers will no longer use minors to repair residential roofs. For years, World Changers has allowed high school students to replace weather-beaten shingles and rotted sub-roofing. LifeWay's decision to keep students off roofs is to "ensure the safest worksite possible and not overextend the risk to our students," Trueblood said. "We want to make sure we are providing meaningful mission opportunities for our students in the safest possible environment."
Bailey said other home repair and construction projects have always made up roughly two-thirds of World Changers projects and will remain the major focus.
"We will continue our mission of helping eliminate substandard housing by replacing doors and windows, rebuilding porches, adding siding and wheelchair ramps where needed, painting and a host of other necessary repairs," Bailey said.
"God is still calling students to the frontlines of missions," Bailey added. "He can use students in a number of ways. What makes missions exciting is not what students do. Missions is exciting when God begins to work through the lives of students."
Last year LifeWay partnered with NAMB to bring World Changers and PowerPlant under the LifeWay student ministry family. Summer 2012 was the first summer the two ministries operated under LifeWay.
World Changers provides students and adults with opportunities to meet the physical and spiritual needs by repairing substandard housing for low-income homeowners. Volunteers donate a week of their summer working in conjunction with cities, churches and community agencies to provide renovations at no charge.
PowerPlant participants learn church planting principles and evangelism skills, then have a chance to engage personally through assigned ministry team activities.
"We've seen God use students to transform the lives of residents and neighbors in cities and towns across North America," Bailey said. "Yes, we've seen houses that look radically different at the end of a World Changers project. But construction isn't the end goal; it is merely the ministry vehicle to allow the power of the Gospel to radically change lives."
Registration for 2013 World Changers and PowerPlant projects is already underway. The World Changers website is world-changers.net; PowerPlant's is power-plant.net.
Carol Pipes is editorial manager for LifeWay Christian Resources' corporate communications team.
Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net