One sunny August morning, our youth leader team ventured up to a mountain lake to take an excited group of middle schoolers on a canoe adventure. We had planned on renting four-person canoes, but unfortunately, when we arrived we were told they had only two-person canoes available. We’d strategically planned a rotation system where a leader would be in each boat at all times, but suddenly that wasn’t possible.
After a brief discussion, we quickly decided that the students would be fine in their own two-person canoes. After all, paddling a canoe isn’t that hard, and these were smart and energetic young people! We then agreed on a couple of boys who would start in the canoe on their own. I set out with another student, happily paddling along the coastline.
About 20 minutes in, I noticed the boat with the two boys was way behind. I could see their paddles moving and hear their laughter, so I assumed they were OK. A little while later, I paddled back toward them. I could see they were working hard and moving their paddles a lot, but they weren’t advancing. Because they weren’t paddling together, in alignment, they weren’t going anywhere.
That day, they never did figure out how to align their paddling motions, resulting in them (and me) missing out on a wonderful adventure. Often, the same thing happens to youth ministries if the leadership team doesn’t get aligned to the same vision and values.
Here are 5 keys to aligning your team to a Gospel Advancing focus:
Illustrate the importance.
Tell compelling stories. Describe how God has used the Gospel to change your life and the lives of those you’ve shared the message with. Have your leaders share stories of youth changed by the Gospel or their own testimonies of how someone shared with them.
Provide compelling Scriptural reasons to share the Gospel. Give a brief message on what the Bible says about how important it is to spread the Good News by using specific verses, such as:
“…for, ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”Romans 10:13-14
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”John 14:6
Highlight how desperately teens need Jesus. Briefly remind your team of the many challenges students are facing.
Practice the plan.
Teach your adult and student leaders how to share the Gospel conversationally. Ask them to download the Life in 6 Words app. Show them how to open with the question: “What are 6 words that describe your life?” Then, use the app to teach them the G.O.S.P.E.L. and two closing questions: Does that make sense? Is there anything holding you back from trusting in Jesus right now?
Have them role-play sharing with one another. Revisit these topics until your leaders feel comfortable doing it from memory conversationally.
Pray for people.
At every meeting and before youth group, include dedicated time to intentionally pray together for God to do a saving work in those who don’t know Him as Savior. Have your team include the names of friends and family members who haven’t put their trust in Jesus.
Once your team understands the vision of Gospel Advancing, include them in brainstorming meetings to determine what adjustments might be needed in your weekly programming.
Give your team opportunities to talk about their Gospel-sharing struggles and successes, both personally and with regards to youth group. Make time to meet with them over coffee or a meal one-on-one to hear how they’re understanding the vision. Set aside 5–10 minutes at every leader meeting to share stories and ask questions about Gospel Advancing concepts. Celebrate—perhaps with candy, a gift card, or a paper crown—when a leader shares the Gospel with a friend!