July is rolling to a close. The new school year is bearing down. And because I’m the Dare 2 Share guy, I want to encourage you to take some time and think strategically about how to make evangelism a priority in your youth ministry in the coming school year.
Joshua & Company
Thinking strategically is critical to any effective ministry and there’s great Biblical precedent for assessing where your ministry is now and where God is leading you.
One such situation is found in Numbers 13:17-33, the passage where God told the Israelites to spy out the land of Canaan. Grab your Bible and check out the passage. In verses 18-20 you’ll see that Moses directed his scouts to evaluate the potential Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (a SWOT Analysis) regarding the land God had promised them. Here are the issues he asked them to assess:
See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not?
As you read the rest of the story you’ll see the Strengths (milk and honey), Weaknesses (the Israelites’ fear), Opportunities (wealth) and Threats (giants) identified. Joshua and company brought back an honest assessment, both pros and cons.
Scouting Out the Lay of Your Land
In much the same way, I would challenge you to pause and take a candid look at the lay of the land in your youth ministry world—specifically in terms of the evangelism climate you face. As you seek to equip your students for outreach, what are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing you and your ministry?
Ask yourself questions like:
- Are my teenagers motivated to share the gospel? Is the soil of their hearts fertile or poor?
- Are there active campus ministries in place in our schools that we could tap into?
- Am I committed to praying for those who need Jesus? Are my students?
- Are we spurring one another on in our efforts to share our faith?
Big Giants vs. Big Grapes
As you consider these questions you may feel empowered or daunted. Most likely, you’ll feel a mixture of both. After all, when Moses’ scouts came back from scoping out the land there were two perspectives: one that said, “Look at those big giants…” and the other that said, “Look at those big grapes…”
But in either case, whether your situation is encouraging or sobering, the point is to learn what you can from the assessment and then move beyond it with God’s help toward an action plan.
God’s Promises Trump Human Logic
From a purely logical point of view, it’s true that the Israelis were no match for taking the land from the powerful giants. But the game changer was this: God had promised the land to the Israelites, and obedience to that promise is the one thing that changed everything.
I would challenge you that in much the same way, it’s your job as the youth leader to step out and lead your teenagers to “go into all the world and make disciples.” Jesus’ promise that “surely I am with you always,” (Matthew 28: 19-20) trumps human logic every time.
It’s time to step up to take the land!
Don’t let the giants you see overwhelm you. Instead, get your students prepared to pick some grapes!
So here are some action steps:
- Do an assessment of the lay of the land, identifying your ministry’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats when it comes to evangelism.
- Pray about how to make evangelism a priority in your youth group this year.
- Program your priorities. There’s no getting around the reality that you program what’s important to you. You program games, music, teaching, announcements and more. You program your priorities. Make a plan for programming youth group time and space for evangelism and then move ahead by faith with the spirit of Joshua and Caleb.
And to help you build a fruitful, outreach-oriented youth ministry, I invite you to join me for one of my free Game Changing Youth Ministry training lunches this fall. You’ll come away with principles and practical tools for creating an evangelism-focused youth ministry!