Over the last few years we, at Dare 2 Share, have discovered the five common actions that are taken in every youth ministry that is thriving on both a deep and wide level. These youth ministries are guiding their teens deeper and deeper into their relationship with God and wider and wider into the world on the mission of Jesus to “Go and make disciples….” Matthew 28:19. They are making disciples who make disciples (therefore “multiplying.”) The first letter of these common actions happen to form an acrostic that spells out “PLIED.” Jesus plied two trades, one as a carpenter and the other as a disciple multiplier. That’s why we call these collective actions The “Get multi-PLIED” Strategy. Thriving youth ministries Pray, Live, Inspire, Equip and Deploy.
Let’s dive a little deeper into each of these priorities…
The youth ministries we’ve noticed that are growing have intercessory prayer as core to what they do. They make room to pray. In the midst of ministry and meetings they view the most important meeting as the one they have with God to intercede on behalf of the next generation. They pray for Christian teens to grow strong in their relationship with Jesus and stand in the gap for their non Christian friends to put their faith in Jesus. They pray for non Christian teens to be open to the gospel. They pray for schools, parents, teachers, and others who can help create a context for true transformation in their communities.
By the way, there is no set way that these youth ministries do this. Some, like my buddy John, do this as an organic part of how they do youth ministry. Others, like my buddy Andy, do it as a programmatic piece of their weekly youth ministry network meeting and monthly student gathering. Still others use great websites like everyschool.com to claim campuses for prayer. However you choose to do it, do it.
“Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1
If you aren’t reaching out to your family, friends and neighbors with the good news of Jesus how can you expect your teenagers to reach their classmates, teammates and friends with the gospel? You don’t have to be good at it. You just have to go for it.
Maybe this means writing and sending a letter to a family member that clearly and lovingly lays out the gospel. Maybe it means that you host a neighborhood block party to get to know your neighbors so that you can begin those spiritual conversations. You can take a friend out for coffee, send an old classmate a Facebook message or invite a couple over for dinner. However you choose to begin to make evangelism a priority in your life go for it. Then you’ve earned the right to challenge your teens to risk to share their faith. Even if you stumble and stutter or flail and “fail” at it you’ll earn the street cred to challenge your teenagers to risk it all to reach their friends.
Never underestimate the power of inspiration. Heck, much of the Bible is inspiration. When I read the book of Acts I’m not thinking about it being a historical timeline upon which I can hang the epistles. Instead, I’m thinking about storming the castle! The Psalms inspire me. First and second Samuel inspire me. The gospels inspire me. Stories inspire me and, if you’re honest, they inspire you too!
We need to motivate our teenagers to live THE Cause by telling stories of heroes who were willing to share their faith. And then we need to open up opportunities for the teenagers in our youth groups to tell stories as well! Some youth groups “Take 5 for THE Cause” every week. Others use baptisms as a time to share the stories of those who are coming to Christ. Some youth leaders tie gospel-centric stories into their weekly talks to keep the spread of the gospel as a top priority in their youth ministries. Make a plan of how you are going to inspire your teenagers to share their faith on a regular basis.
Equip to evangelize
Once a teen is inspired to share their faith they must learn how to share their faith in a way that combines the best of relational and relentless evangelism. Motivation without information that leads to application leads to frustration. In other words, many teenagers have given up the quest to share their faith because they simply don’t know what to say.
Teenagers must learn how to bring it up, how to lay it out, how to deal with objections in a gentle way and how to give someone an opportunity to put their faith in Christ. There are all sorts of resources out there to help you equip your teens to share their faith, many of which you can find on www.dare2share.org.
Deploy to multiply
At the end of the day THE Cause (aka “The Great Commission”) is not just about making converts to Christianity. It’s about making disciples who make disciples. Our teenagers are called to reach their friends with the hope of Jesus and then disciple the ones who say yes to grow deep in their faith and go wide with their faith.
Your job is to coach them to do this effectively. It may feel clunky at first but, through the power of the Holy Spirit, it can be done.
Will all your teens be ready, willing and able to do this? No! So start with your core and move out from there. That’s what Jesus did. He started with the ground that produced “thirty, sixty and a hundred fold.” We scattered spiritual seeds everywhere and then poured his life into those who were willing to go for it. “Go with the goers and pray for the others” must be our ministry mantra is we are going to truly get multi-PLIED for THE Cause.
So what’s your “Get Multi-PLIED” Strategy for THE Cause?
What’s your plan…
…to make intercessory prayer a bigger priority in your life and ministry?
…to live THE Cause in your own circle of influence?
…to inspire your teens to live THE Cause?
…to equip your teens to evangelize?
…to deploy your teens to multiply?
Just remember that it doesn’t need to be a perfect plan, just a good one. In the words of the great “theologian” General George S. Patton, “A good plan violently executed today is better than the perfect plan next week.”