Vision: To take the hope of Christ to every student
Mission: To unite the local body of Christ with a plan of action to influence the school with the gospel
Our Statement of Faith
God loves mankind so much that He gave:
His Word to be the written source of absolute truth.
His Son Jesus, to restore our relationship with God.
His Spirit to empower believers to live holy lives.
His Mandate to proclaim Christ’s sinless life, death, and resurrection to all.
His Church to equip believers to reach the world.
All staff, board members, and volunteers are committed to:
Living a life which honors God.
Being in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
Living a life which is under the authority of and consistent with Scripture.
Serving with followers of Jesus Christ from diverse backgrounds and from all races.
Living according to and sharing the whole gospel of Jesus Christ.
Meeting the highest standards of stewardship in regard to time, talent and treasure.
Participating in and supporting a local church.
First Priority student-led groups meet weekly on middle and high school campuses
First Priority of Tampa Bay (FPTB) is a locally operated, independent nonprofit that launched in Tampa in 2009 as a covenant community of First Priority of America. FPTB provides meeting resources and training to middle and high school students who want to lead a First Priority Christian campus club in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Polk Counties .
As an equipping organization, here is what we provide to students:
- Training to launch and lead a First Priority campus group/club
- Guidance and support for navigating the First Amendment right to gather on campus
- Meeting resources to ensure that groups are successful and sustainable
- Ongoing training to equip students to be strong, confident, and effective leaders
- Training for interpersonal skill development
Behavioral Health Support for Students
Because of the pandemic, First Priority of Tampa Bay is providing additional behavioral health support to students in the following ways:
- Videos on mental health topics are available for free to students
- Behavioral health topics are incorporated into the weekly club meeting curriculum
- Our staff is trained and certfied in Mental Health First Aid
- Resources, support, and mentoring are available for First Priority students, as needed
The E.P.I.C. Strategy
All First Priority campus meetings follow a 4 week E.P.I.C. cycle, which is repeated throughout the school year for approximately 10 cycles. Each cycle focuses on a different topic. This is a proven strategy for connecting students to each other, the Bible, and a local church:
Week 1 is EQUIP Week: Helping students to know the mission of Jesus and follow His example
Week 2 is PREPARE Week: Preparing students to share the hope of Christ with friends
Week 3 is INVITE Week: Students sharing their faith stories and the gospel message
Week 4 is CONNECT Week: Connecting students to a faith community and other opportunities
All students are invited to meetings/activities, no matter their faith or background. First Priority is not intended to replace church. In the meetings, Christian students share the Word of God (Bible), their faith stories, and the good news of Jesus. Meetings are a safe, friendly place for students to ask questions, seek community, and find support.
All First Priority groups/clubs are student-initiated and student-led. During each weekly meeting, student leaders open and close in prayer, read and talk through Bible verses, and help new students to get connected to a local church.
The official position of First Priority of Tampa Bay is that staff and adult volunteers will follow the law, as it applies to groups/clubs on public middle and high school campuses.
As it is stated in the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” This means that students are allowed to gather on campus and to share their faith. However, the First Amendment and the Equal Access Act do not afford the same rights to adults. Therefore, all of our campus groups/clubs are student-initiated and student-led. To see the Equal Access Act law click HERE
Further, the Supreme Court decision in HSU vs. Roslyn Union Free School District, 1996, states that student-led religious clubs on public school campuses may have parameters on who can serve in leadership. Click here to read more on this decision: https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-2nd-circuit/1265184.html
Partnering with the Local Church
Jesus said to make disciples (Matthew 28:19), to share the gospel (Romans 10:14), and to love others (Matthew 22:39). With this in mind, we partner with youth pastors to train their students for campus ministry, and we are dedicated to supporting local churches.
To provide quality resources and ongoing support to students who lead First Priority campus groups/clubs. To help students become better leaders, connect with peers, and share their Christian faith. To train student leaders to regularly invite their friends to youth group and church. To help students understand and defend their religious rights on public school campuses. To train, screen, background check and regularly communicate with staff and adult volunteers; all of whom are held to the highest standards and to a Biblical lifestyle.
About Our Organization
First Priority is a registered non-profit that is locally governed by independent board members who are not paid for serving. The Executive Board oversees organizational operations and financial oversight. The staff follows a strategic plan and adheres to organizational rules and practices, as determined by the local Executive Board and the national organization (FPoA). FPTB is supported by private donations and 100% of donations are used to impact local students.
Our role is to support students and their efforts to share Christ with their friends at school. This happens by equipping, empowering and engaging students to run their campus groups/clubs. First Priority groups/clubs welcome all students to participate in meetings and activities regardless of backgrounds or belief systems. While First Priority students read and study the Bible, the meetings are not designed to replace church/youth group.
We also provide support and advocacy for students who are at-risk or in crisis. Our Executive Director has a background in working with at-risk students and families, and often facilitates a class on boundary setting and life skills to local students. Our staff is certified in Mental Health First Aid- the training and certification through National Council of Mental Wellbeing.
We also assist First Priority students with organizing community and campus service projects.