Do you see yourself as the one primarily responsible for presenting the gospel to your students’ non-believing friends? Have you cast yourself in the role of “quarterback,” fostering an invitational evangelism mindset in your students? Does “outreach” in your ministry primarily consist of encouraging your students to bring their unreached friends to youth group so you can lob the quick touchdown pass and nail the “conversion” point?
When it comes to evangelism, many youth leaders see their occasional gospel presentations during youth group meetings as their primary channel for spreading Jesus’ salvation message.
They’ve bought into Evangelism Myth #1:
I am the one responsible to lead teenagers to Christ.
Laboring under this e-myth can cripple the effectiveness of a youth ministry.
Maximizing Your Impact
Now hear me. I will be the first to advocate that it’s critically important that you give the gospel each week at your youth group meetings. And you should rejoice over every soul who gets introduced to Jesus through your meetings or outreach events.
But I’m convinced that we would see even more fruit from our evangelism efforts if we shifted our paradigm. Instead of being the quarterback who is primarily focused on delivering the touchdown pass, what if we started seeing ourselves as the team coach?
Coaching and equipping teens to do the work of evangelism
The coach’s job is to train and equip the individual members of the team with the skills they need to get off the bench and into the game themselves. The coach’s job is to explain the strategy, refine the skill sets and techniques and then motivate the team to bring their best to the game.
When you coach your teens with some basic gospel-sharing essentials and then motivate and mobilize them to share their faith with their friends, you’ll maximize your ministry impact on a whole range of levels. Here are just a few of the ways you’ll see your impact deepen and widen:
1. Reaching the Unchurched. Your teenagers can reach into lives you’ll never touch. They have friends who would never darken the doorway of a church, but who just might listen to a peer who knows how to tactfully turn an everyday conversation toward spiritual things and share Jesus’ message of grace.
2. Becoming More Like Jesus. You’re helping them become more like Christ. Jesus’ heart broke for the lost and as a youth leader; the center of your calling is to help your teenagers grow in Christlikeness. And developing His heart for the lost is critical to that process.
3. Multiplying Your Reach. You’re only one person. You can only talk to so many teenagers in any given week. Say you have five unbelievers visit your youth group each week. You’d reach five students with the gospel. But through your students, you can multiply your impact. The average teenager has more than 100 online and face-to-face friends. You get the picture. If they shared the gospel with even a small fraction of their friends, the numbers grow exponentially.
4. Cultivating a Deeper Faith. By getting your students off the bench and into the game, you’re deepening their faith and helping them become serious Jesus followers who seek to walk in obedience to Him.
5. Nurturing Life-long Leadership Skills. The values cultivated during the formative teen years can last a lifetime. When you help your students consistently engage with others about the gospel, you’re building them into life-long leaders with a holy passion for Jesus and His mission for the Church.
The list could go on and on—because evangelism was key to Jesus’ disciple-making process. And we see in Paul’s writings that it was the centerpiece of the early church, as well. Reread the book of Acts and you’ll get the picture.
It’s time to debunk this Evangelism Myth. Evangelism has to be a mindset we’re cultivating year-round in our students as we coach them week in and week out. Let’s get our teenagers motivated and equipped to initiate spiritual conversations and share their faith one-on-one with their friends.
Multiply your ministry impact. Get your teens off the bench and into the game!
Altering your youth ministry evangelism paradigm from one that is dependent on you to one that is dependent upon your teenagers can be a huge seismic shift. What do you see as some of the risks and rewards? Of the five benefits listed above, which one did you find most compelling? Which was least?