One of the laws of the universe is entropy, which can partially be described as the gradual decline into disorder. As youth leaders—amid the week-to-week, ever-changing demands of ministry—we may feel as if we have front-row seats to see this process unfold. Fortunately, there are things we can do to reintroduce order and focus into our group.
One of the most powerful and important ways to do so is to keep a bold Gospel Advancing vision on the forefront of students’ minds.
Here, we offer 8 great ideas of visual displays—curated from Gospel Advancing leaders in the trenches—that will do just that:
1. Maps and school logos
Morgan Marshall of Arvada, Colorado, created a wall display with two maps:
a. a world map highlighting missionaries and countries the group supports or has visited.
b. a city map with logos of the various middle schools and high schools her youth group represents.
These visuals remind students that they’re on a mission to make disciples all around the world, and primarily among the 14,000 students attending the schools in their own town.
2. PENNIES IN A FRAME
To display what Nebraska-based Jonathan Phillips calls “investment” in the Kingdom, he created a display using a record holder, which is essentially a double-sided picture frame. His group uses stickers to indicate on the glass the number of Gospel conversations and decisions for Christ they’re praying for. Then they cut a slot in the top of the frame to fit coins through. Each time a student has a Gospel conversation, they drop a penny into the frame, and each time there’s a decision for Christ, they put a quarter in.
3. BEANS IN A TABLE
Iowa-based leader Eric Groezinger had someone in his church build a table that they put beans and a LED light strip in. It contains 12,314 pinto beans, covered in black paint to represent the 12,314 middle school and high school students in their group’s Cause turf. Then they added white beans that stand for students in their group who have made a profession of faith. They also added a sheet that explained their vision, their Cause turf, and what the white/black beans mean, and put it in a very prominent place in their youth room. As students see this each week, they’re reminded of the group’s mission and focus.
4. Wall Display
Luke Long of Washington and Scott Tinman of Ohio both have created cool wall displays to clearly show their goals and bold vision. Luke calls his the Cause wall, and Scott’s is a Prayer – Care – Share station.
5. Chalkboard display
Nathan Smith of New Mexico, Andrew Riddle of Oklahoma, and Logan Floyd of Missouri all use different types of chalkboard displays. Nathan Smith painted three closet doors and wrote all of their group’s plans and progress toward the their goals. Andrew Riddle had a student draw 2,200 small circles on a chalkboard; then every time someone has a Gospel conversation, they fill in a circle. Logan Floyd wrote out the group’s vision on a chalkboard and uses tally marks to show progress toward intercessory prayers, baptisms, and Gospel conversations.
6. Ping-Pong Balls
Word of Life missionary John Collins made a banner out of the image here, instructing students to put certain-colored ping-pong balls in a box: orange if they prayed for a lost person, green if they showed the love of Christ through a caring act, blue if they shared the Gospel, and white if someone trusted in Jesus through their witness. Scott Tinman also did a ping-pong box a few years ago.
7. Light-up Cross
In my youth-pastor days at a Colorado church, I would gradually hang up battery-operated push-lights, which over time formed the shape of a cross. Each push-light represented a Gospel conversation someone in the group had, so we added new ones as students reported conversations. When anyone put their faith in Jesus, the person who had shared the Gospel with them went up and pushed the light to turn it on.
Brie McRae of Arizona and David Starkey in New York both use vases to remind their groups of their bold vision. Brie uses a clear vase that says Gospel Chats, and each student gets to drop in a marble when they have a Gospel conversation. David uses a vase with his whole church, and people put in an artificial flower every time they have a Gospel conversation. Little kids to seasoned saints all celebrate the conversations!
Whether you use one of these ideas or something new you thought of while reading this, make the effort to create the display. The ongoing visual reminder will encourage you, your leaders, and your students all year long.