“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12
I am firm believer that teens can and should be the best missionaries North America has ever seen. Statistics tell us that 80% (or more) who have trusted in Christ, did so by the age of 18. It is also proven that nationals reach their own people group with the most effectiveness… combine these two statistics and voila, we ought to be putting our time and effort into teens reaching teens!
Just as Paul instructed his young friend and disciple, Timothy, to set the example, I believe that teen peer-to-peer ministry needs to become more the rule, rather than the exception. Young Christ-following adults (teens) should set the example to ALL believers in their faith walk (speech, conduct, love, faith and purity). Not only will it lead to great opportunities for evangelism, but it will accelerate the path of discipleship.
This spring I put my own figurative money where my mouth is. The organization I lead, Youthmark, provides churches and mission organizations training resources for not just a mission trip, but the 51 weeks of life outside of the mission trip. In addition to the curriculum, we host a Mission51 Retreats for groups. This spring, our band was Double Vision, led by 15 year old twins, Mason and Micah Marrs.
Not only have Mason and Micah led the teens in worship, we have them doing so much more! In many ways our retreat is taking on a Student-Led, Adult Mentored Ministry (SLAMM). One key element of the training that the guys lead is something we call Speed Training (a faith sharing practice we let Dare 2 Share use for the 2012 GameDay tour).The guys have done a fantastic job of guiding their peers through this invaluable training experience!
Not all are gifted with music skills like Micah and Mason. Not all are skilled in public speaking. But one thing is for sure. We all have gifts and we are to use it for God’s glory. To the youth pastors, youth leaders and parents reading this post- are we looking to come alongside students and allow them to discover and use their gifts (even mentor them in them)? And to the teens reading this, are you stepping into opportunities being provided to develop these gifts, skills and talents?
Teens can and should be the best missionaries North America has ever seen. We just need to provide the opportunities and teens need to step it up and risk!