From our perspective, outreach has always been the favorite and most rewarding part of our teen events. And that’s all because of one not-so-secret ingredient: Evangelism!
But the word “evangelism” has a knack for turning people in the opposite direction. So what makes us think it’s a good idea to send teenagers out to begin conversations with strangers and their friends about the gospel?
I’ll give you 3 good ideas why:
1. They’ll get the chance to really own their faith.
In Philemon 1:6 Paul wrote, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith so that you may know every good thing you have in Christ Jesus.” When teenagers share their faith actively, they begin to own their faith personally. That’s why we made teens going out and sharing their faith the central component of all our events, and Dare 2 Share LIVE is no exception.
I’m convinced that we must equip teenagers to share the gospel if we truly expect their faith to be their own over the long haul. There’s something about evangelism that forces a teenager to go beyond head knowledge of the faith to heart ownership of it. Why? Because risk is involved in faith sharing!
When teenagers share the gospel they’re opening themselves up to mockery, scorn and being ostracized from their social circles and potential friends. But it is this exact possibility that can harden the cement of their faith into the concrete of Christian convictions.
Maybe that’s why we don’t see many former Mormon missionaries abandoning their faith. After dealing with two years of slammed doors and argumentative evangelicals, the average young Mormon has complete ownership of the tenants of Mormonism. You’d need a tire iron and the full power of the Holy Spirit to pry it from their white-knuckled fingers.
Their faith has been steeled and sealed on our doorsteps. They’ve processed through their faith by articulating and defending it again and again and again. And the verbal persecution they receive just drives it deeper into their souls and psyches.
Think about it, the central call of discipleship is a call to die. In Matthew 10:38,39 Jesus told his young disciples, “Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” What’s interesting is that Jesus gave this challenge to his disciples in the context of sending them out on an evangelistic mission. He was calling them to die a social death by sending them to preach “The kingdom of God is near.”
The same thing happens when our teenagers share their faith. They pick up their crosses, die to themselves socially by sharing the gospel publicly. The act of evangelism drives their faith deeper into their souls, not only because of the risk they are taking, but because of the faith they are building. The fear associated with relational evangelism cannot help but make a teenager pray for strength and boldness. And it is only through this full reliance and connection to the Vine (aka “Jesus“) that they can produce lasting fruit (John 15:1-8)¹.
2. It changes the dynamic of your youth group.
Sadly, youth ministries that tend to be all about what’s happening inside the four walls of the youth room become spiritually inbred and culturally impotent. True discipleship entails sending teens on mission every single day to their friends, classmates and teammates. (Not just teaching them God’s Word.) Because it’s during these gospel conversations where many teenagers begin to truly know and own their faith.
Think of it this way, if you pour milk into a sponge and don’t squeeze it out, the milk will sour. In the same way, if our teenagers take in the milk of the Word (1 Peter 2:2) but never pour it out to their peers, they too will spoil. D2S LIVE brings the milk to the table during the inspiration segment to pours into your students. It then gives them an opportunity to squeeze themselves out during the outreach so they don’t sour.
Believe me, your teenagers are ready for this!
If they’re used to the “traditional youth group setting”, they are tired of filling up on playing games, singing songs, going to camp and hearing another lesson on self-image, sex or media choices. They want to be squeezed out by being a part of a God-breathed revolution. They want to live out a cause that will change their peers and impact their world.
This radical revolution is the very cause of Christ to “seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10) and to “make disciples” who make disciples (Matthew 28:19)². Give your teens a chance to interact with THE Cause of Christ, and I promise the very dynamic of your youth group will completely change:
Your youth group will go from a place of entertainment and weekly messages, to an atmosphere buzzing about God’s work. Stories of friends coming to Christ will echo throughout your youth space. New faces will become a norm. Your teens will agree that faith is actually exciting to talk about! (Not to mention the more your students step out to share, the more their faith will become their own.)
And worship! Just watch it come to life after these same teens see first-hand what God can do through them.
How am I sure this is possible? Because that’s what it was like for the early church that made sharing the gospel central to everything they did. They gospelized their ministry. Just read the book of Acts to see how the early Church exploded with believers.
Your ministry has the potential to do this too! What a great way to give your ministry year the momentum it needs to start off well.
3. There’s nothing more exciting than introducing someone to Christ.
Persuasion gets a bad rap, especially when it comes to evangelism.
Sure, we all know those types who take it too far. We’ve all felt that holy cringe when we’ve seen pointed fingers and heard “repent” reverberating from a bullhorn on the street corner. But I think we can all agree that this style of “evangelism” is more coercion than it is persuasion.
The English word for persuasion smacks of the used car salesmen stereotypes of evangelism that ask “what can I do to get you to buy into Christianity today?” to a hurried, harried and harassed customer. But the Greek word for evangelism (“Peitho“) is a whole different story.
Peitho means “to gently win someone over, to lovingly convince, to make a friend.” And that’s exactly what we want to do in evangelism. We want to gently win others over to Christ. We want to lovingly convince them to believe. We want to make them a friend to us and to Jesus.³ And when that happens, we will experience no greater joy.
Students often tell us how fearful they were to share the gospel with complete strangers during outreach:
“What if I don’t know the answer to the stranger’s question?”
“What if I forgot what I’m saying mid-sentence?”
“What if the stranger rejects what I’m saying?”
But then after they come back from the experience many also tell us, “It wasn’t as bad as I thought. It was actually fun!” And that’s because it challenged them in their faith, they got to take part in Christ’s Cause, and best of all, they got to see joy on the no longer stranger’s face they helped lead to Christ.
So during the outreach time on October 13th this year, do everything you can to make the most of your group’s time sharing the gospel. Once your youth group experiences God moving in and through them as they share their faith, we’re sure it will be one of your most memorable and favorite parts of Dare 2 Share LIVE for you as well.
To learn more about the Outreach experience or to register, click here.
1) Stier, G. (2014, December 5). The missing puzzle piece when it comes to keeping our teens from leaving their faith. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://gregstier.dare2share.org/blog/youth-ministry/the-missing-puzzle-piece-when-it-comes-to-keeping-our-teens-from-leaving-their-faith
2) Stier, G. (2016, February 11). 4 warning signs your youth ministry may be headed for trouble (and what you can do about it!). [Blog post] Retrieved from http://gregstier.dare2share.org/4-warning-signs-your-youth-ministry-may-be-headed-for-trouble
3) Stier, G. (2017, February 4). A case for persuasion in evangelism. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://gregstier.dare2share.org/a-case-for-persuasion-in-evangelism