Evangelism Myth #8: Technology, sports and extracurricular activities are the enemies of evangelism.
Teenagers’ lives are packed and stacked with activities – social media, sports, drama, band, school clubs, movies, music, and maybe there’s even some homework thrown into the mix for good measure.
As youth leaders, it’s easy to start seeing all these involvements in our students’ lives as distractions or even as competition. But what if we started thinking of all these activities as opportunities, instead of threats? Opportunities for them to expand the scope of their influence for Jesus and to build relationships that will broaden the reach of the gospel message if we’ve trained and equipped them to share their faith.
The reality is that the more involved our teenagers are across a wide range of interests and groups of people, the more connections they have for relationally sharing Christ or encouraging others in their walk with Jesus. When they’re properly motivated and mobilized for evangelism and discipleship, they become a walking, talking extension of your youth group meeting everywhere they go!
And that means that the scope of your ministry’s impact is multiplied out far beyond the reach of the four walls of your youth room.
A Letter from Christ
You catch a glimpse of this principle of extended ministry impact that reaches beyond your own sphere of influence in the Apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 3:2-3:
You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
Think of your teens as a letter from Christ, known and read by everybody. And when you train and equip them to share the gospel with their friends, they’re being unleashed to transform their world for Christ.
Their friends who might never set foot in church will have the chance to hear the Good News. And research shows that teenagers have 100 times more influence on their friends than a stranger ever could. Relational evangelism brings down the walls and smoothes the way by opening hearts and minds to the most important message on the planet in a way a preacher or youth leader never could.
As You Are Going
One of the most famous passages in all of Scripture further reinforces this principle of making disciple who makes disciples. In the familiar verse found in Matthew 28:19 Jesus says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” Did you know that the literal meaning in the original Greek, for the word “go” is not actually “go”? It’s “as you are going.” As you are going, make disciples. It doesn’t carry the drop-everything-and-go-to-a-far-away-land-and-make-disciples idea. Instead, it carries the connotation of starting where you’re at, in the midst of your day-to-day life and making disciples. It’s about being Jesus’ man or woman out there in the gritty streets – in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
The modern equivalent for your teens might look something like this: make disciples within your circle of friends, on your sports team, at your school, on your Facebook page and then on the mission trip to South America next summer.
Your job is to train your teens to see the opportunities that come their way and help them learn how to naturally turn conversations toward spiritual things. Then as they go through their daily life – to soccer practice, over lunch or on Facebook – they’re ready to live and give Jesus.
If you’re looking for some intensive training on how to cultivate this “as you are going” approach to student ministry, I encourage you to consider joining me at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference (SYMC) in Indianapolis, March 1-4, 2013. I’ll be speaking from the main stage on Friday night on the power of prayer which is the very foundation for all ministry impact. And I’ll be teaching a Deeper Learning Track throughout the weekend on “Evangelism-Driven Youth Ministry: A Transformational Strategy for Accelerating Discipleship Growth.” SYMC has an early bird discount up until October 31, so if you’re thinking about coming, you might want to check it out now.
When you cultivate an evangelism-focused youth ministry, the more places your students are going the broader the reach of the gospel. It’s time to debunk e-myth #8!
How do you suggest your students make disciples within their circle of friends, on their sports team, at their schools, on their Facebook pages?