“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”
—Ancient Chinese Proverb
Where are you headed? Is your weekly program rundown sheet taking you toward an increasingly Gospel Advancing Ministry?
Try This! ❯
Have your students role play how to conversationally share the gospel using the interactive, seeker-friendly, faith-sharing Life in 6 Words app.
Sometimes our programming has been inherited from the previous youth leader, or there’s an unwritten expectation that we keep things like they were in the ‘80’s. Or maybe we’ve simply fallen into a rut. It’s essential that our programming is aligned with our mission of building a ministry where the gospel is advancing both in and through our students!
One of the most effective drivers for Gospel Advancing Ministry is to routinely and intentionally infuse your weekly program with relational evangelism elements. As with any change, this takes prayer, creativity, leadership, and a willingness to try new things. There are potential landmines when it comes to change, so pull the right people close to help you navigate the change. Be motivated by your vision and conviction, be decisive and clear, but most importantly let any changes be driven by a season of prayer. Cover each of the following steps with prayer and seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance so that any change will be born out of your time with God.If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.—Ancient Chinese Proverb Click To Tweet
Step 1: Take a snapshot.
Write out a list of everything you do on a typical youth group night and estimate how much time you dedicate to each thing.
After you’ve identified what you do, spend some time really asking yourself why you do each. How does each piece fit within the grid of your mission and vision for your ministry? Don’t apologize for having crazy games or something nasty to eat, just think through the purpose behind each activity.
Step 2: Assess your group’s culture.
How effective is your weekly program at getting you where you want to go? Ask the Holy Spirit for insight as you do a prayerful evaluation. Then invite a few key, godly, adult leaders and insightful students some of the following questions to get the conversation started:
- What’s the purpose of our youth ministry?
- What do new people say about our group?
- What are some roadblocks that keep you from inviting other teens?
- What elements of our group meeting time are most relevant and engaging? Least?
- What is central that should never change?
The more thoughtful your assessment, the more clarity you’ll have about potential changes. Overlay what you learn during your evaluation process with the mission and vision of the church as a whole, and consider how the youth program fits into the direction of the larger church body. Jot down a quick summary of what you’ve learned in a “How’s It Going?” column.
So your snapshot might look something like this…
|What||Why||Time||How’s It Going?|
|Fellowship||Connection||0:10||Eats up a lot of time|
|Games||Attendance hook||0:20||Fun, but uses a lot of time|
|Teaching||Discipleship||0:30||Could be more relevant|
|Small Groups||Relationship/accountability||0:10||Too chatty|
|Prayer||Connection with God||0:00||Usually gets crowded out|
Step 3: Insert relational evangelism.
As you assess what’s working and what needs adjusting, look for ways to create some margin in your programming where you can try a few new things that bring an outreach focus. Here are some options to consider…
- Create a storytelling culture. Challenge students to share stories about their own faith-sharing efforts—the good, the bad and the ugly—including missed opportunities that occurred to them after the fact. This can be as simple as “I started praying for…” to “I brought Jesus up and…” Challenge your student leaders ahead of time to get things started by sharing first. No matter what’s shared, be consistently encouraging. After each story, ask the students’ small group leader to pray for the people involved. Then encourage all your teens to share their faith.
- Talk about sharing your faith. Appropriately incorporate your own personal faith-sharing efforts into your teaching and encourage your adult leaders to do the same in small groups.
- Program time for students to pray for their friends who need Jesus. This lays the foundation for the Holy Spirit to work and serves as a prompt for students to consider their own role in the process of introducing their friends to Jesus.
- Give the gospel weekly. Segue your lesson topic into a gospel presentation. As your Christian teens hear these “salvation segues” each week, they’ll learn how to think about virtually every conversational topic as an opportunity to point people toward Jesus. Include an invitation to respond.
- Role Play Sharing Your Faith. Get your students practicing how to conversationally share the gospel using the interactive, seeker-friendly, faith-sharing Life in 6 Words app.
- Gospel Advancing Best Practices. You’ll find additional youth leader ideas in this handy little PDF. Adapt them to your context. Or listen in on youth leader Tyree Sterling talking about his experiences adjusting his programming to be more Gospel Advancing. Or, since you know your group best, come up with your own!
Step 4: Reassess and Adjust
Pray, be creative, take a few risks and try some of these new ideas. See what happens. Let it play out for four to six weeks. Then ask yourself:
- How does it affect your group?
- Are the students warming up to the idea?
- Is there a student or adult leader who’s really latched on and could take on some additional leadership?
- What did you learn?
- What did the students learn?
If God doesn’t seem to be blessing your new initiative, pray and try a different idea. Just keep trying until you find the right fit for prioritizing relational evangelism in your group’s weekly programming!