Kids are hard-wired to want to be in the game. From a young age they want to be involved in what’s going on. Just look at any preschooler for proof. “Me! Let me do it!” They want to be more than spectators, and along the way they begin to develop their own competency and autonomy.
The same can be true for the teenagers under your spiritual care. By getting them out of their seats and into the action, you’re nurturing their spiritual development and helping them own their faith.
But how do you ignite that initial spark that moves them from passive observers to engaged participants? By tapping into their longing for meaning and purpose and giving them a cause to live for.
More Than a Compass
In the life of an impressionable, idealistic teen, commitment to a cause is a powerful thing. It can serve as a compass for them as they wrestle with the big questions they face. Questions like: “Who should I hang out with?” “Do my lifestyle choices really matter?” “What do I want to do with my life?”
Now, a cause that helps guide teens and encourages sound, Godly, personal choices is a great thing. But I’m talking about a whole different level of cause! I’m challenging you to call your teens to a cause that will change the world and will have an impact that lasts for all eternity. I call it THE Cause of Causes.
THE Cause of Causes
What is this earth-shattering cause we should be challenging our students to embrace with their hearts and their lives? It is the last and lasting mandate of Jesus:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
THE Cause contains one main thrust: To make disciples!
Helping Your Teens Embrace THE Cause
The following are a few quick ideas to get you started down this road of getting your teens into the game. Coming issues of energize will provide you with additional insights, practical tips and strategies.
- Cast the vision for THE Cause. Lay out Jesus’ call to make disciples to your teens. Then keep it front and center by building time into your weekly meetings for teens to share stories about their personal efforts to live and share their faith with their friends. Their stories will help create a culture of evangelism. Initially you may want to plan this out in advance by inviting a particular student to talk to the group about a specific experience they’ve had sharing their faith.
- Build in time for pray. Set aside time for your teens to pray for each other’s efforts to live THE Cause and share their faith. Get them praying specifically for their friends who need Jesus. Prayer is a foundational step in growing a heart for Jesus’ search and rescue mission to the lost. Change it up in terms of how you do this each week to keep it fresh.
- Meet and greet newcomers. Create a visitor friendly atmosphere that encourages your teens to invite their unreached friends. While your end goal is to turn your teens into a walking, talking outreach meeting everywhere they go, there is still a place for invitational evangelism.
Students who understand the importance of evangelism more fully embrace the value of an open and welcoming youth group. Teens naturally gravitate into clusters, so rather than trying to break these friendship circles up, try using them to fold newcomers in. If your group is committed to making evangelism a priority, then challenge your regular attendees to come each week with an ‘open cluster’ flexibility vs. a ‘closed cluster’ fortress mentality.
So tap into your teen’s longing for purpose and unleash them to live THE Cause!