When you think of a leader, what comes to mind?
I took a very scientific poll, and the majority said “the person in charge” or “the person in front.” It follows, then, that the people behind the leader would do whatever they see the leader doing. That means, if we want our students to share the Gospel with their friends, it’s imperative for us to do the same with those in our spheres of influence.
I first learned this principle before I worked full-time for the church, as a leader of secular children’s nonprofits such as the Washington County Association of Retarded Citizens and Girls Inc. of Washington County in Maryland. With both organizations, one of the first orders of business after I was hired was to be trained on the ins and outs of the organization and on how to be a leader. After that, I was tasked with training the people below me on what I had learned.
This reminds me of Luke 6:39-40: “[Jesus] also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Then Luke goes on to talk about specks and beams in eyeballs and good and bad trees producing good and bad fruit.
Jesus’s admonition makes it clear that one of the most important things a ministry leader can do is to set the example through personally sharing the Gospel.
In 2014, I attended a Lead THE Cause event hosted by Dare 2 Share that put these leadership principles into a ministry context, and it changed my mindset forever! It highlighted for me how what I had learned through those secular organizations could be applied in a ministry context by following these steps:
1) Leaders want it.
- Secular: After being hired in nonprofit organizations, I wanted to learn more so I could better service the students I was overseeing.
- Ministry: As ministry leaders, we first need to want to lead the way in personally sharing the Gospel! (Click here for tips on doing this clearly and effectively.)
2) Leaders learn it.
- Secular: After I was trained, I spent time teaching other leaders what I learned.
- Ministry: As leaders, we need to not only share our faith personally but also teach those who serve with us what we’ve learned.
3) Leaders model it.
- Secular: I implemented what I learned into our programming until it eventually became our way of life.
- Ministry: We should insert moments into our ministry during which we and our leaders tell stories about our faith-sharing experiences.
4) Students buy in.
- Secular: After we modeled and taught what the organization’s culture should look like, students just knew that “this is what we do.”
- Ministry: After our students hear story after story about us as leaders sharing the Gospel, it will become what our youth ministry is about and students will begin to do it themselves.
5) Students leaders lead.
- Secular: Once the repetition was established, students were able to lead the way by teaching and modeling for new students who entered the program. This freed up adult leaders to lead in other capacities.
- Ministry: Literally the exact same thing as above!
Several years after my first Lead THE Cause event, I created an online program to help ministers become more Gospel Advancing, because I’d personally proven this model to be effective. On four separate occasions of leading in youth ministry (without a budget), I’ve seen numbers go from 7 to 30 (pre-teen ministry), 35 to 65 (middle school), 65 to 125 (middle and high school, in less than two years), and 12 to 75 (middle and high school, from September to late November).
The beauty of this leadership approach is that you can start immediately by taking this 48-hour challenge:
- Share the Gospel with someone within the next 24 hours.
- Then, within the following 24 hours, tell another leader about it. Teach that leader the way you do it, and challenge that leader to start now as well.
Get ready to see the Gospel advance rapidly as you continue this method and challenge others to do the same!