What is your definition of impossible? Completing a back handspring by jumping into a rainbow body with hands on a beam that is only 3.9 inches wide before flipping the body over and finishing tall all while perched 4.07 feet above the ground? How about a girl from China breaking the world record for men and women swimming the 400-meter in what some called an impossible amount of time? Perhaps a sixteen year old beating out countless talented competitors to win the coveted title of over-all best female gymnast in the world? These things may be impossible for most of us but they are things that millions saw with their own eyes during the 2012 Olympic Games.
Many were awed, inspired, motivated, and dumfounded by the athletic abilities of this year’s Olympians; while others were moved by a much different message. A message of hope.
Many organizations strategized their evangelistic efforts around the masses of people who flocked to London to witness the games. YWAMers, dance teams, Brazilian groups, Catholics, Christians and many more paid their own way to take advantage of the evangelistic opportunity created by the influx of people to London. Even several Olympians were themselves tweeting Bible verses and thanks to God before and after competitions. It was almost impossible to miss the accounts of people sharing their faith during the games. Here a few noteworthy stories to get the creative juices flowing when it comes to your own youth group’s outreach efforts:
Gabby Douglas is a sixteen year old who won gold medals in both the individual and team all-around competitions at this year’s Summer Olympics. In an article from the Christian post, Gabby Douglas was quoted to have said, “And I give all the glory to God. It’s kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to Him and the blessings fall down on me,” during an interview with NBC. She was also seen tweeting bible verses throughout the duration of the games always thanking God for her success. One tweet from Romans 12:19 said, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’”
Another example of evangelism at the games was found in an article by The Christian post:
Over two thousand volunteers have paid their own way to help churches serve their communities and international visitors during the 2012 Games. They represent over 40 countries including Ghana, South Korea, Russia and India. Volunteers served alongside churches by helping to organize a holiday club and a café. Also meeting and greeting the families of athletes being given a free bed and breakfast so they can afford to see their loved ones take part.
These volunteers chose to serve the community rather than preaching a message on a street corner. They took a much more relational approach to evangelism and engaged with people on a level that blessed them and represented Jesus in a positive way.
People from all over the globe shared the message of the gospel through dance, dramas, and other creative ways. One group even used noticeable tricks like spinning several basketballs on fingers and toes to engage the audience in hopes of leading them into a conversation about Jesus Christ. Whatever you use to catch people’s attention, it’s always best to engage non-believers in a loving conversation that truly reflects the love of Christ.
We can learn a lot through the outreach models utilized at this year’s Olympics. These ideas of street evangelism can also be used in your own community. Think of areas where lots of people are gathered together – music festivals, local fairs, concerts, local tourist attractions, etc. Then work with your youth group to create simple dramas, dance routines, magic tricks, or other forms of street performance that might attract a crowd. This will create an opportunity to engage people in conversations about Jesus. One thing I’ve found to be very effective in this sort of street evangelism is to have members of your group walking through the crowd during the performance praying quietly and asking individuals if they have questions about the things portrayed in the performance. Part of the group can perform while the rest spread through the crowd with the gospel.
Have you done a city wide outreach before? Any ideas you can share to help others at public events?