Passengers aboard a cruise ship were having a great time when a beautiful young girl fell overboard. Immediately there was an 80-year-old man in the water who rescued her. The ship staff pulled them both out of the treacherous waters. The captain was grateful, as well as astonished, that the old man performed such an act of bravery. That night a luxurious banquet was given in honor of the elderly hero. He was called forward to receive an award and was asked to say a few words. He said, “First of all, I’d like to know who pushed me!”
As a Gospel Advancing youth leader, you may sometimes find yourself in situations where some of your adult volunteers feel like they’re being pushed into this “search and rescue” mission you’re on as a Youth Ministry. They signed up to have fun with students…and all this emphasis on relational evangelism is outside their comfort zone.
Try This! ❯
Share a story with your adult leaders about someone you’re personally praying for and reaching out to with the gospel.
So how do you help your adult leaders embrace a Gospel Advancing Ministry approach? Of course, it’s a process. But here are four steps to help you cast a vision and make forward progress in getting your adults ready to jump into relational evangelism feet first.
1. Model Relational Evangelism Yourself
Are you personally trying to reach out to those who don’t know Jesus? Do your adult leaders see it in your life? Share stories with them about who you’re praying for and trying to reach with the gospel. If no stories come readily to mind, have a serious conversation with Jesus and ask Him to break your heart for those who don’t know Him. Then identify one person you haven’t shared the gospel with yet and pray through a plan to begin the conversation this week. Talk about your faith-sharing struggles and efforts openly with your leadership team—good, bad or ugly—and invite them to join you on this journey.
2. Cast the Vision
Gather your team together and watch the short video of Greg Stier explaining a Gospel Advancing Ministry philosophy. Then share from your heart why you’re committed to this approach to youth ministry. Open the floor for discussion. Spend time praying together for the gospel to advance in and through your students.
3. Acknowledge the Elephant in the Room
Many Christians—even those who call themselves “evangelicals”—struggle with evangelism personally or tend to think of it as an intolerant thing of the past. Have a candid conversation with your adult leaders about any evangephobia they may harbor personally. During one of your leadership development training times, unpack some of the reasons why some Christians find sharing their faith challenging and learn from Scripture together how to begin to move past those issues.
Reason #1: Fear. Fear of rejection looms large for everyone. But prayer is the antidote for fear. Plus, Scripture promises that God goes with us and provides His power as we share His love and truth with others. (2 Timothy 1:7-8, Isaiah 41:13; Psalm 27:1; Hebrews 13:6; John 14:27.)
Reason #2: Live and Let Live. Some Christians have bought into the perception that initiating spiritual conversations is inappropriate, intolerant or intrusive. Yet evangelism is about giving away the best news on the planet. At the core of every human is a gaping hole—a hole that can be temporarily filled with stuff, sports, sin or whatever. Jesus has called us to be His ambassadors and help others fill that invisible, unquenchable need for God by sharing the gospel with them. It’s not intolerant to share the truth with others. It’s a gift we must learn to give away. (2 Corinthians 5:14-20; John 20:21; 1 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 13:12.)
Reason #3: Anybody But Me! Many Christian grew up thinking that sharing the gospel is the pastor job. But there’s no getting away from the bare-faced reality that Jesus has called all of us to do this! It can’t get much plainer that His word in John 20:21: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”There's no getting away from the reality that Jesus has called all believers to share the good news. Click To Tweet
Reason #4: Lack of Urgency. What’s the big deal? We like to shut out the reality of hell, but Jesus didn’t. He had plenty to say about the consequences of a life lived apart from Him—both here and now, and for all eternity. Advancing the gospel is urgent business. (Matthew 24:36-44, 2 Peter 3:10-15 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.)
Reason #5: I Won’t Know What to Say. Don’t assume that your adult leaders know how explain the gospel. Train them on how to share it from take-off to touchdown. There are many great approaches to doing this. At Dare 2 Share, we use the GOSPEL acrostic, but you can choose whatever works best for you. (1 Peter 3:15.)
4. Be the Coach.
An effective coach inspires and helps the team members master the basic skills. Listen to the Holy Spirit as you work to help your adult leaders adopt a lifestyle of relational evangelism, so you know when to prompt and when to be patient. Regularly sharing about your own efforts gives you a solid foundation for asking and expecting them to do the same. Assure them that they don’t have to be evangelism experts. They just need to love Jesus, love teens, have a heart for the lost and talk about the gospel—out loud, with words. And if you want to take your team to the next level, tap into some of Dare 2 Share Gospel Advancing resources like our podcasts, webinars, One Day Trainings, the book Gospelize Your Youth Ministry or our Lead THE Cause week-long summer training events.
Is it possible that your relational evangelism emphasis will make some of your leaders so uncomfortable that they resign? It’s possible. But identifying the leaders who are willing to make relational evangelism a high priority in their own lives will ultimately help you build a thriving Gospel Advancing Ministry. These are the leaders you want to pour into, because they will have the greatest real life-on-life impact when it comes to helping teenagers adopt a lifestyle of evangelism.
And remember, you don’t have to be an evangelism expert, either. You just have to be one step ahead of those you’re leading!