Listen to Author Carl Blunt answer these questions:
- What is The Life Book?
- Are you violating any separation of church and state laws with this movement?
- How can people get involved in this evangelism effort?
No High School Student Left Behind - 'The Life Book' Movement
By Beth Patch
CBN.com Internet Producer
CBN.com Recently, CBN.com spoke with The Life Book author, Carl Blunt, about an ongoing project to get God's Word into the hands of every high school student in America.
Beth Patch: What was the inspiration for the Life Book and its distribution to students?
Carl Blunt: Well, we were actually founded by the Gideons International, a massive organization, as I’m sure you and your audience are well aware. And they have, as you can imagine, had a difficult time getting God’s Word into public high schools in the United States. They made a decision that what they wanted to do was create a separate organization. It was really focused on peer to peer, student to student distribution. I was hired in April of 2009 to be president and CEO of this new movement.
The first thing we had to do was create what they were calling at the time a Gospel message. That is what The Life Book came out of. And as you know, it’s divided into four parts, for four specific reasons.
The first part of the Life Book is a short recap of the Old Testament, because studies say that only four percent of today’s teenagers are Bible believing Christians. The vast majority of students do not have any framework for understanding the fall of man, sin, the need for a Savior. So what we’ve done is actually provided a short recap of the Old Testament, which sets up part two, the book of John. It’s the entire book of John. And then part three is a commitment section; and part four is a help section, with specific scriptural answers and responses to issues that teenagers face.
Beth: What type of response have you seen in the schools up to this point?
Carl: It’s absolutely been phenomenal. We started distribution in the fall of 2009. And as we enter 2011, nearly 300,000 Life Books have been distributed in high schools by high school students all across the United States.
Beth: Wow. Now how have you managed to fly under the radar, so to speak?
Carl: Actually, we’ve not necessarily been flying under the radar; although we’ve just really been doing radio interviews for maybe a couple months now - some radio and television. The reality is this, that government guidelines allow students the right to distribute religious literature in the schools. And most administrations and principals are very familiar with these government guidelines that came down actually out of the Clinton Administration with the Students Bill of Rights. And there are three things that we train students around to stay within those guidelines.
The first is this is a completely student led effort. No adults from churches that we work through and no adults from our organization set foot on that high school campus. It’s completely student led.
Secondly, it’s noncompulsory. Students can’t be forced to hand them out, and they cannot force another student to receive one. So we make sure that we communicate that this is to be offered as a gift in the same way that God offers the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ.
The third thing is this, that it has to stay within the guidelines in such a way that it’s not disruptive to the educational environment. And with that thought in mind, we make sure that students hand these one to one. They don’t stand in a hallway and just hand out a bunch or in a doorway of a classroom. But they hand them one to one, not during class time, but in between classes, at lunch, before or after school. They actually write their names in the front of The Life Book and their cell number and a little note like, “Text me if you have questions.” We really try to keep it in line with that.
Beth: Now how are the students getting the books to begin with to hand out?
Carl: We are actually contacted by churches, and then that church kind of serves as what we call an “anchor church” in their area, and they involve partner churches. All those youth ministries come together, decide which high schools to target, and we provide the books at no cost to all of those churches, enough books to put in the hands of every student in every high school that they target.
Beth: Have you got a regional plan with this as far as where you’re going next and where you’ve been?
Carl: Well, actually, we are simply responding to invitations from local churches. And they have been phenomenal. We have been overwhelmed by the amount of interest. So what happens is ... it’s happening all over the country. Churches simply come to us and say, “Hey, how can we, through our students, saturate the high schools that our ministry serves?” And we’ve had denominations buying in from the top down and kind of pushing it down to all of their local churches, denominational leaders saying to me, “Carl, how can we make sure that every church in our denomination is saturating every high school that they serve?”
Beth: If you have students who receive The Life Book and have some questions, what type of follow-up is set up?
Carl: One of the great things about this approach is we always work through local churches. So every student who hands out a Life Book is a part of a local church. Because of that, there is a natural relational bridge back to that local church for follow-up. So the youth pastors on the local level handle all of the follow-up that happens. And so those new students who trust Christ become part of that local youth ministry.
I’ll share a quick story. I got an e-mail, actually, it was a Facebook post, about a month ago from a youth pastor in Colorado. And they said, “Our saturation was about three weeks ago. But last night three girls came with the Life Book from the Life Book saturation and came to our youth ministry and trusted Christ as their Lord and Savior.” So there is a direct connection back to the local churches involved.
Beth: Now, is there a way for our audience to view a copy of the Life Book?
Carl: It can certainly be viewed online at www.thelifebook.com. That’s all one word. Thelifebook.com. So there is a digital version on there. We actually have a version on Facebook. There are certainly ways you can view it online.
And as you well know, it’s about the size of a CD case. And it’s kind of clean and nice looking, and students really like to hand it out, to be honest with you. It’s very different from your typical youth book that is just splashed with color everywhere. This is very simple, very Apple-like, if you will. The computer company.
Carl: We’ve really done that for a reason; so that it stands out and that it’s different, because this is the Word of God. And that is different.
Romans 1:16 says that the Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe. And so when we say to students what you’re handing out is not just a book, not just black and red text on a white page, but it is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe.
Beth: Well, I wish you the most success possible that God would continue to bless what you’re doing and that the Life Book would change students’ lives. This looks like it hits students right where they like to be, on their level. It just looks like it is ministering to them on their level, which is very nice.
Carl: Well, it’s interesting.
I’ll share one quick story about that. A girl shared from us from a high school in Missouri. She said, “We had saturated our school by Wednesday.” It’s a week-long mission trip usually, so from Monday to Friday. She said, “We saturated our entire school by Wednesday. And I’m sitting in the front of my independent reading class. I turn around and look behind me, and more than half of the class in my public high school is reading the Life Book as their chosen independent reading book.” And so we believe by God’s grace that it really is connecting with students where they are and introducing them to Jesus Christ.
Beth: Thank you for sharing that. Is there anything else that’s coming up in association with your outreach to students through this ministry that you’d want to share with us? Anything in the future that you know of?
Carl: Well, we’re just experiencing phenomenal growth I guess in terms of interest. So we’re doing our best. It’s kind of like I’ve had the privilege of leading a lot of ministries, both national and international. I’ve never been a part of this, something like this where I feel like we’re just holding to what God is doing.
So it’s kind of cool, because we can’t sit back and claim to be clever or claim to have developed this great strategy. But we can just sit back and say, “Wow, look at what God is doing,” and somehow try and just hang on to what He is doing. So it’s really honestly just from my perspective, an incredible thing to be a part of. And I believe God is going to use His Word, as He always has and as He promises He will to reach a generation for Christ. There are 17 and a half million high school students, and our goal is to put the Life Book in the hands of every student.
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