From the audacious feats of the snowboarders, to the grace and elegance of the figure skaters, to the fearless speed of the luge competitors what an astounding range of personalities and skills these athletes of the 2018 Winter Olympics are displaying!
Have you ever considered how different the athlete who trains to compete in curling is from the snowboarder, figure skater or hockey player? Snowboarding requires boldness and daring, while curling emphasizes strategy. Hockey involves teamwork, while the singles figure skater faces the pressure alone. The athletic abilities and disciplined skills these athletes have worked to perfect are as varied as the rainbow.
Yet each athlete is a member of their country’s one Olympic Team.
Insight #1: One team, many members.
In a similar way, your Gospel Advancing Youth Ministry is filled with students blessed with a range of personalities, natural abilities, spiritual gifting and acquired skills and experience. This diversity is a strength. Yet you are one team, pulling together and striving toward a common goal of seeing the gospel advance in your community.
A bold vision statement that concisely summarizes the specific goal your group is praying for and striving toward is a great team-building tool. This kind of shared vision statement both frees and focuses your group. It frees you by giving you a grid to run all your programming and teaching content decisions through as you choose between good, better and best. And it focuses you by rallying your students around a shared, measurable goal. If you don’t currently have a bold Gospel Advancing vision statement, you can learn more about how to craft one here.
But even though your youth group is one team, you have many members. And God values the uniqueness of each one—which is why He didn’t create His children using a cookie cutter. He respects our individuality—so much so that when He sends His Holy Spirit to us at the moment of our conversion, the Spirit brings different gifts to different believers. And this diversity of spiritual gifts strengthens His Church as body (1 Corinthians 12).
Insight #2: Tap your students’ unique gifts and experiences.
Along with your student’s differing personalities and differing spiritual gifts, they also have different real-life experiences—some pleasant, some painful—that God can use to advance His Kingdom and bring glory to His name. If a student’s journey through life has taken them through a boatload of emotional pain, God can use them to reach out to others who are hurting. If they’ve struggled with giants—like cutting or depression, for example—God can redeem the pain in their past and use them to pour His compassion into the lives of others.
On the other hand, you may also have students whose gifts and life experiences have molded them into self-proclaimed nerds with an interest in apologetics and a hefty dose of serious critical thinking skills. God can use them in a totally different way to share His message more logically and methodically with seekers who have a more intellectual approach to exploring belief in Jesus.
Or perhaps you have students in your group whose gifting and life experiences have left them with a passion for helping newcomers feel welcome. They have a different role to play in your group, as well.
So help your students discover their own gifts and faith-sharing style and coach them on how to contribute their own unique interests, talents and experiences toward accomplishing your group’s bold vision.
Insight #3: Train like an athlete.
Still, your students’ spiritual gifts, natural talents, personalities and experiences only take them so far. Without disciplined training and practice in how to actually share the gospel with someone, their gospel advancing impact won’t reach its full potential.
Try This! ❯
Sacrifice, discipline, determination, skill, passion, strategy, commitment, training, practice, perseverance—these words describe Olympic athletes. Ask your students how these same words might apply to sharing their faith.
Sacrifice, discipline, determination, skill, passion, strategy, commitment, training, practice, perseverance—all these words come to mind when we think of Olympic athletes. These are also words that should describe a believer’s life as we seek to follow Jesus’ command to go and make disciples of all nations. Here’s how the apostle Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.
So coach your students like they’re athletes with a race to win! Get them trained to share the gospel. Give them opportunities to practice and role play gospel conversations. Coach them on how to bring Jesus up in conversations with non-believers. Give them training on how to wrap those conversations up by inviting the other person to put their trust in Jesus. Then challenge them to “run the race to win” by sharing the gospel with a friend with all the passion and excellence of an Olympian!
Want more practical advice on mobilizing your teens to share the gospel? All of our Mobilize stories offer great ideas for training your students and building a Gospel Advancing Ministry. Sign up here to receive this free, hands-on, resource in your inbox.