T he story of First Priority of South Florida starts back in the late 80’s while Chris Lane attended college in Birmingham, Alabama. While working on his degree in Education and getting involved in youth ministry, he heard about a new ministry called First Priority. At the time, it was little more than a group of churches getting together to go into schools, connect students on campus, and form outreach clubs to share the Gospel. The concept was definitely of interest, but Chris’ focus was on his classes and his growing involvement in church youth ministry. Following graduation, Chris came back to South Florida and became a youth pastor at First Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale. For several years he and FBC Fort Lauderdale would host the regional Dawson McAllister Student Conference that would connect him with local churches, reaching thousands of students. The youth pastors of those churches would gather to brainstorm how to improve student ministry, have fellowship with each other, and pray together. Out of that, strong relationships were formed and Chris along with several of those youth leaders began to do joint youth events on a regular basis throughout the year. As they met and prayed together, they started to recognize how few of their students had any sort of Christian activity taking place on their school campuses. As a result, many students did not feel they had an effective opportunity to reach out to their friends at school. It was at this point that Chris remembered the idea of First Priority back when he was in college.
Never one for wasting time, Chris reached out to First Priority of America to get more information and to discuss the possibility of starting a branch in South Florida. Chris then brought the vision to the youth pastors that had been gathering to network and all of them embraced the idea. The only question now was, ‘who would take the lead?’ It would be impossible for any one of them to head up a church youth ministry as well as a school club ministry at the same time. At a youth pastor network lunch one of the participants spoke up and said, “Hey, we really need somebody to do this full-time, and Chris, we think it’s you.” As Chris prayed, God steadily confirmed the calling in his heart. God was also at work in the hearts of others and funding was given to start First Priority of Broward County in the fall of 1998!