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The leadership conference in Sydney, Australia, was truly an international student leadership event with leaders representing over 10 nationalities. Their churches are reaching students from numerous ethnic backgrounds with one church alone ministering to 45 people groups of students.

I was challenged to see that their student ministries were multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-lingual, but they were drawn together by a desire for Biblical principles. They knew their programs would be varied, but the longing for principles and philosophy is what brought us all together on this single day for this single purpose.

One leader after another shared how they desired to disciple students and to take their ministries to the next level. One leader told me that he and his leadership team realized that they needed to begin developing students of influence now rather than waiting on them to reach older grades.

I realized in the first session that I was speaking to leaders that were hungry. They seemed to soak up the concepts and to want more. I was encouraged and motivated by the sincere desire of the leaders to learn and grow.

This conference reminded me once again that if we build our ministries on principles then they will work anywhere in the world with any culture. Principle-centered ministries produce solid philosophies that cross cultural barriers effortlessly. Yes, the program component will change and be modified, but the foundation does not have to vacillate.

Personality or program-centered ministries are limited in outreach and have a short shelf-life because personalities and programs come and go. Biblical principles and philosophy are the irreducible minimums of life and are not dependent on people, resources, cultural nuances or leadership styles.

I have learned so much from my new friends in Australia about cross-cultural ministry that I want to implement in my own ministry. They have found a way to reach a plethora of people groups using the irreducible minimums of principles while allowing for cultural nuances in program.

If the church youth ministries that I met in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne are representative of the rest of their ministries, then the future of the Australian student ministry is bright. These youth leaders are hungry, teachable and focused on developing students of influence and I am grateful for having met them.

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