A thriving youth ministry is an evangelistic youth ministry. Youth pastors know their job isn’t to entertain kids for an hour every Wednesday (although, fun never hurts!). It’s to lead teenagers to Jesus, disciple them, and transform them into disciple-makers and evangelists. That doesn’t happen when you only focus on youth evangelism once a year. Building an effective youth ministry means a lot of prayer and intentionally making every meeting Gospel-focused and evangelistic. Here are four steps to get there.
Include Gospel Take-Aways in Small Group Bible Studies
Every Bible study you’ll ever lead can always be tied to the Gospel. Studying the tabernacle instructions in Exodus? Teach your students that the tabernacle was as close as God’s chosen people could physically get to Him and even then, they were still separated by a veil. That veil was torn when Jesus paid an atonement for every person in the world (Matthew 27:51) and now God the Holy Spirit regenerates and dwells in people after they accept Jesus as their Savior (Ephesians 1:13, 1 Corinthians 3:16).
Doing a deep dive into the laws and bloody sacrifices listed in Leviticus? Explain that the law was a mirror for us, made to show us our sins and how badly we need a Savior (Galatians 3:19-20, 24). Help your students understand the sacrifices in the Old Testament all lead up to Jesus, the last sacrifice we’d ever need for our sins (Hebrews 9:11-14, 1 Peter 1:18-19).
There’s no risk of the Gospel being “forced” into a Bible study because its message is in every page of Scripture. In the creation story when we don’t even see Jesus’ name, we discover that Adam and Eve’s disobedience led to a fallen world that needs the Gospel. In the horrific tale of the Levite’s concubine, we’re shown just how corrupt our sin makes even the holy people of God and how badly all of us need saving.
Not only should you provide clear Gospel-connections in your Bible studies, but include questions that directly ask your students where they see the Gospel in this lesson. Where do they see sin? God’s holiness? His promise to send the Messiah? Questions like these prepare them to receive the Good News if they haven’t yet. They also help you and your leaders see if your students are spiritually growing.
Incorporate the Gospel into Every Lesson
If your teaching style is purely book by book, verse by verse, apply the above suggestions to this section. And if you occasionally or primarily preach about topics, you can still incorporate the Gospel into every lesson.
Theological topics naturally tie in with the Gospel. If you’re preaching on the trinity, for instance, you can teach how the Father sent the Son to die for our sins and then the Son sent the Holy Spirit to live in those who confess Jesus as Lord. If you’re doing an end times series, you can explain how only those who have trusted in Jesus will be saved.
Even topics that aren’t necessarily “theological” can end with you giving a Gospel invitation. When preaching about bullying, tell your youth group that Jesus was mocked and ridiculed during His crucifixion. Maybe you’re doing a sermon series on God’s design for marriage. Explain that husbands and wives are supposed to be a picture of Jesus’ sacrifice for the Church (Ephesians 5:25-29). If you can’t connect a sermon to the Gospel at all, ask a friend for insight. You might be missing something or you might need a new sermon topic!
Always Do an Altar Call and Gospel Invitation
There are lots of youth group events that don’t involve sermons or Bible studies, and the Gospel should be preached there as well! You should always preach like nonbelivers may be present, but that likelihood increases at events because some students only feel brave enough to invite their friends to fun, “non-churchy” events. Never miss an opportunity to give a Gospel invitation and lead a student to Christ!
What to Say When Giving an Altar Call
Interestingly enough, you don’t need an altar to give an altar call. While the phrase brings to mind an image of someone walking down a church aisle to pray with a pastor, altar calls have become synonymous with presenting the Gospel to a group of people and inviting them to trust Christ for their salvation. Altar calls can happen in churches, tents, parks, etc.
A Gospel presentation should always include inviting someone to repent of their sins and make Jesus their Savior. You don’t want students to misunderstand and believe that because Jesus died for them, they’re automatically going to heaven. A Gospel invitation or altar call helps them understand they need to accept the atonement paid for them and to repent or turn away from their sins in order to be saved.
Altar Call Scripts You Can Use
Setting: small group in church
Is there anything stopping you from asking Jesus to be your Savior today? We’re going to sing a worship song right now. If you want to be saved from your sins, be in a relationship with God forever, and know exactly where you’re going after you die, please come talk to me or one of the youth leaders during the song.
Setting: large group in church, or any size group outside of church
With heads bowed and eyes closed, I want to ask all of you – is there anything stopping you from asking Jesus to be your Savior today? If you want to be saved from your sins, be in a relationship with God forever, and know exactly where you’re going after you die, you can repeat this prayer in your heart after me, right where you are.
If you said that prayer and have turned away from your sins, would you please come talk to me or any of the leaders tonight?
How to Lead an Altar Call Prayer
Altar call prayers, or the sinner’s prayer as some have coined, are the prayers pastors and preachers use to help someone repent of their sins and invite Jesus into their heart. There are two important things to remember when leading an altar call prayer:
- You can’t pray to receive Jesus for someone. They need to be repeating after you or in a large group setting, praying in their heart.
- The prayer doesn’t save; Jesus saves. And He’s decided to save every person who truly repents and prays to receive Him!
Before you lead someone to Jesus, seriously consider mentioning the two points above. It may clear up any confusion they have about accepting Jesus into their heart. Here’s an altar call prayer script you can use (be sure to pause between sentences, allowing the person to pray):
Repeat after me. God, I know I’m a sinner and that I’ve sinned against You. There’s nothing I can do to pay off my own sins. But You sent Your Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for my sins. I believe that Jesus was raised from the dead. Please forgive me and save me from my sins. Help me to live more like Jesus. I want to make Jesus my Lord and my Savior today and forever.
Someone may not want to repeat after you but would like some guidance. Instruct them to ask Jesus to forgive and save them from their sins, believe in His death and resurrection, and make Him their Lord (Master, King, etc.). Explain that prayer is just talking to God and let them know that there’s no one way to say the sinner’s prayer. It just has to come from the heart.
Plan for Evangelism at Youth Group Events
Evangelism doesn’t just fall on the shoulders of youth pastors. Use youth group events as opportunities for your students to evangelize. Perhaps you’re going to a pizza parlor. Encourage one of your students to ask the server if your group can pray for him or her. Afterward, suggest another student to say something as simple as, “Hey, I hope this is okay, but I just want you to know that Jesus loves you and died for your sins. Can I give you this Gospel tract?”
Maybe you’re going bowling and you see a homeless person outside the building. If the person doesn’t seem dangerous, pay for an extra meal and have one of your students deliver it to the person. Your student can try to strike up a Gospel conversation and use the Life in 6 Words app to walk them through the Good News.
A lot of times, we get tunnel vision and only focus on our youth group during events. After all, we’ve got to get them back to their parents all in one piece! But don’t let events distract you from the chance to evangelize to the lost. Use them as evangelism practice for your students. If you pray and plan for witnessing opportunities during your outbreak events, not only will God send lost people your way, but you won’t see those people as interruptions. You’ll see them the way God does – precious and far from Him.
What to Do Next
There’s one more step you can take to make every youth meeting Gospel-focused and evangelistic – become a Gospel Advancing leader. When you join the Gospel Advancing Ministry, you become a part of one of the largest and fastest growing global movements dedicated to equipping youth groups to share the Gospel with their communities. Join now and help every teen, everywhere, hear the Gospel from a friend.
Evangelistic Youth Groups FAQs
Evangelism is the act of sharing the Gospel message with others and inviting them to respond to it. It involves communicating the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, which includes acknowledging and confessing sin, repenting and turning to God, and placing one’s faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Evangelism can take many forms, from personal conversations to large-scale events, and it is often accompanied by acts of service, compassion, and love. The goal of evangelism is to help others come to a saving knowledge of Jesus and to participate in the growth and transformation of the church and society.
Evangelism is important because it is the means by which the Gospel message is shared and spread to those who have not yet heard or accepted it. The Gospel message is the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and it is essential for people to hear and respond to it in order to have eternal life. Additionally, evangelism allows believers to fulfill the Great Commission given by Jesus to his disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20). By sharing the message of salvation and helping others to follow Jesus, we can help bring people into a saving relationship with God and participate in the growth and transformation of the church and society as a whole.
An altar call is a public invitation extended by a Christian preacher or evangelist at the end of a worship service or event for people to respond to the Gospel message. It typically involves an invitation to come forward to a designated area, such as the front of the church or stage, to publicly acknowledge a decision to follow Jesus or to receive prayer for a specific need. Altar calls are a longstanding tradition in many Christian denominations and are intended to provide a clear opportunity for people to make a commitment to Christ and to receive support and encouragement from the church community. While not a necessary or universal part of Christian worship, altar calls are seen by many as a powerful and effective means of evangelism and spiritual growth.
A Gospel Advancing Ministry is a ministry that is intentionally and actively committed to advancing the gospel message and making disciples of Jesus Christ. This type of ministry prioritizes equipping and empowering young people to share their faith and make a difference in their communities and the world. It emphasizes personal evangelism, discipleship, and a passion for reaching the lost with the message of the Gospel. A Gospel Advancing Ministry also emphasizes the importance of building relationships with young people, investing in their lives, and creating opportunities for them to grow in their faith and share it with others. The ultimate goal of a Gospel Advancing Ministry is to see a generation of young people transformed by the gospel and empowered to make a lasting impact for Christ.
If you are considering transforming your youth group into a Gospel Advancing Ministry, or if you would like more information about this approach, you can find it at https://www.dare2share.org/gospel-advancing/. Additionally, you can let us know if you are ready to join the movement!