Jesus stands as a striking figure in the history of the world. He made a lot of controversial statements that did not always gain Him the popular vote among the people of His age—let alone our own. Perhaps one of the most controversial stories Christ ever told is the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). The tale of an unfortunate man who became the victim of a violent robbery and was left for dead is familiar to most of us—after all, here we are two millennia later and we still have Good Samaritan laws and Good Samaritan hospitals. Yet what is most peculiar about this story is not the ending (i.e., the victim being cared for); it is the Samaritan who did the rescuing.
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Challenge your students this week to download the Li6W app so that they can be ready to share the gospel across the tracks.
Samaritans were the outcast in Jewish society. For the Jewish people, they represented all that was wrong with the world. Placing a Samaritan as the hero of the story elicited the same kind of gut reaction from the Jews of Jesus’ day as we might get today if we placed an atheist as the moral hero of a sermon illustration in an evangelical church. So when Jesus said, “Be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8), the region of Samaria would have stuck out like a sore thumb. The Jews would not have cared to go there, but Christ wants our Gospel Advancing Ministries to not only reach across the street and across the world, but also across the tracks to our own Samarias.
Here are four practical steps to help you and your students reach across the tracks to those outside your comfort zone.
1. Identify your Samaria
Most of us have a person in our lives who lives “across the tracks.” For some of us, it is a literal—perhaps socio-economic—place where the people who live there are viewed differently. For others, it can be a type of person or people group that doesn’t fit in with the norm because of ethnicity or lifestyle choices. If your youth group is highly homogenous (e.g., mostly white, mostly middle class), think through what could be your Samaria as a ministry, and help your students do likewise. If it isn’t obvious, pray and ask God for insight. Keep this on your student and adult leaders’ radar. Challenge your entire ministry to regularly reach out to people they do not know. If you struggle with cliques within your own group, a game can be a great way to mix the group and get students to meet new people, but make sure you are also helping them focus on how to reach across the track in their own schools.
2. Reach out to your Samaria
After you’ve identified your Samaria, begin to build bridges. A simple phone call to a church, business, organization or school can really make a difference. You could say, “Hello, my name is [NAME] with [CHURCH NAME]. Our youth ministry is trying to do a better job of getting to know the people in our neighboring communities. May I buy you a cup of coffee and learn about your community?” When you meet, try to figure out simple and practical ways to build bridges between the communities. If you have an idea, bounce it off the person you are meeting with to see if the community would appreciate it.
3. Go to your Samaria
As you learn more about the people across the tracks, begin to think of creative ways to reach them. Spending time and meeting needs is the key—help students get this. For example, say you are reaching out to a community that enjoys sports. You could contact the local recreational center and try to develop a program or event. Get your students involved throughout the planning and execution process. Have them ready to relationally share the gospel. If they don’t know the gospel well enough, they could download the free Life in 6 Words app that takes them through a GOSPEL acrostic. You could also purchase the powerful four-week Evangephobia curriculum, which helps teenagers and youth leaders discover how to overcome their fears about sharing their faith and cultivate a passion for sharing the gospel.
4. You are Samaria
A humorous reality that we oftentimes miss is that we are someone else’s Samaria. When we reach out across the tracks, we are, in some ways, helping others reach out to us. In my own youth group, we reach across the tracks by sending a shuttle to pick up students in a local urban community through a missionary contact we made. Each week, the shuttle picks up the kids and brings them to youth group. The kids are different (not in a bad way) from the students in our own community, and it can be challenging to get them to become friends. But it is worth the challenge because a Gospel Advancing Ministry is not a country club, but a ministry movement committed to THE Cause of Christ. We plan on sending the students to Dare 2 Share’s upcoming Unshakeable conference where they will be encouraged to grow closer to God and each other.
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Through the power of the Holy Spirit, your students can live out Christ’s bold vision and reach their Samaria. And remember, Dare 2 Share is here to help. If your students struggle with evangelism, consider sending them to our one-week, life-changing training event this summer called Lead THE Cause. Soon enough, your students will dare to do things differently as you become a ministry that reaches across the tracks.