I remember the first time I went to our local network meeting after getting so excited about the Gospel Advancing movement I’d been introduced to. My enthusiasm was great—my technique, not so much. The first moment there was the least bit of silence, I jumped in and told everyone that God had answered my prayers and that they should all adopt the 7 Values of a Gospel Advancing ministry!
As you can imagine, my forceful approach didn’t go over very well.
I believe connecting with other youth leaders for the purpose of seeing a movement in your city is vital, but it takes us being “as shrewd as snakes and as harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). It takes time to start, build, and maintain a healthy Gospel Advancing network. Over the years, I’ve managed to establish a few best practices.
Here are four key ones to get you started:
1. Go where other leaders are, even if it’s inconvenient! Attend current network and denominational meetings, conferences, etc. Remember, these are fishing ponds.
Adapt the Cause Circle as a tool to help you pray for and connect with Gospel Advancing leaders. Ask God to bring to your attention to leaders who can help reach your city for Christ, and start praying for them daily. My favorite prayer is asking God to give them a holy discontent. Once you’ve identified these leaders, reach out to grab coffee or lunch and get to know them. As you’re building a relationship, listen well and really care for them.
2. As the Holy Spirit leads, mention what God is doing in and through your students, and share struggles but also victories. Eventually, they’ll likely start asking questions, at which point you can share what Gospel Advancing is all about.
3. See if some of the leaders want to start meeting to pray over students, the schools, and communities. Ask God to start a revival in your city, and be honest about needing help. I’ve found that in most cities only 5 to 10 percent of students attend any church at all, which means reaching the whole community will require a group effort and God’s divine help!
4. When you have two or three leaders who are all-in, gain momentum by creating a shared bold vision. Then meet regularly, and always make it about Jesus and the Gospel. Plan events at different churches or neutral venues, and fight for unity. Come up with a set of values (or use the 7 Values) to agree on—and then leave what little you don’t agree on at the door.
Connecting with other leaders to reach every teen in your area with the Gospel may feel overwhelming. But if God’s called you to do it, He’s got it under control and will supply you with everything you need. What a great privilege to be used to join Him in reaching a city, county, or state with the Good News of Jesus Christ!