Growing up in Florida meant regularly dealing with treacherous hurricanes. After one small hurricane, my sister and I noticed our neighbor’s mailbox uprooted and lying flat on the lawn. Believing the mailman would provide a new one, we took the mailbox— finders keepers, after all—agreeing that it would make a great birdhouse. After much hard work and a few bottles of spray paint, we turned our neighbor’s white mailbox into a metallic gray and red eyesore. When our father came home, we quickly learned that mailmen don’t give out new mailboxes when they fall over. We’d demonstrated a truth universally acknowledged: most neighbors aren’t perfect.
Sometimes the people in closest proximity to us can be the hardest to reach for THE Cause. For whatever reason, we become jaded through the years. I’ve met people who would rather go on a mission trip than attempt to talk to their neighbors or co-workers about Jesus. But in God’s economy, our neighbors are among the first that He calls us to minister to—and for good reason.
In the opening chapter of Acts, Jesus gave the disciples a clear vision of gospel advancement: “You will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Christ is telling the disciples to start where they are at (Jerusalem) and then move outward (Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth). Jerusalem and Judea were, in essence, their neighborhood. Christ wanted His disciples to reach across the street, and not just set their sights on going across the world. Similarly, He wants our Gospel Advancing Ministry to reach into our own area of influence—our own Jerusalem and Judea. At Dare 2 Share, we call this your “Cause Turf.”
Having a bold vision changes everything. While there are a lot of churches and organizations that have fantastic visions, many visions serve as little more than wall decoration. One way to keep that from happening in your ministry is to identify your Cause Turf and then keep it front and center in your ministry.
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Here are three steps to help you do this.
1. Identify Your Cause Turf
Get out a map, learn the area and prayerfully identify your Cause Turf. Factor in responsibilities, time commitments and the Holy Spirit’s direction as you determine what your Cause Turf should be. For my ministry, I went on Google Maps and printed off all the high schools within a five-mile radius. The printed maps are hanging next to my desk as a reminder of the students and schools our Gospel Advancing Ministry is trying to reach for Christ. We had to figure out what was nearby before we could begin to strategically think about how to reach the area.
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Prayerfully define your Cause Turf this week by looking up local schools and considering the geographic area you want to reach with the gospel.
2. Develop an Action Plan
Once you’ve collected the data and identified your Cause Turf, it’s time to prayerfully develop an action plan. Ask yourself this question: How are we going to reach our Cause Turf?
Do your students have a heart for reaching their schools for Jesus? If not, motivate and mobilize them with a catalytic event like the Unshakeable Tour, Lead THE Cause or Dare 2 Share Live. Do your students know how to share their faith with their friends who don’t know Jesus? If not, get them trained with a curriculum like Shine.
On a personal level, if you are trying to reach specific schools, contact local Christian organizations like Fellowship of Christian Athletes or Youth For Christ that may already have a campus presence. Christian clubs regularly need volunteers who can help partner with them. By getting involved, you can get your foot in the door, nurture relationships with unreached or unchurched students and potentially create a pathway for students to get plugged into a church.
3. Keep It Front and Center
A great way to sound the trumpet and mobilize the youth is to keep a visual of your Cause Turf prominent in your youth group room. When students see the Cause Turf, it helps them understand the overarching mission of the youth ministry and gives them a concrete picture of how they can get involved. Create a Cause Turf map by printing a large map and placing it on a wall and clearly marking your group’s Cause Turf. Here’s an example from Greg Stier, the founder of Dare 2 Share, when he was identifying his church’s Cause Turf and recording his progress in reaching their neighborhood.
Challenge your students to identify a small area on your map that they would like to personally focus their efforts on by praying for and pursuing spiritual conversations with those who don’t know Jesus personally. Set aside time in your weekly group meetings to share stories about their efforts—good, bad or ugly. One example of how this can happen is by challenging them to pray through the school yearbook for each student at their school.
Remember, the gospel is meant to spread. But before we go across the world, let’s go across the street—in our own neighborhoods. Figure out your Cause Turf this week and begin creating an action plan to live out your bold vision to evangelize and disciple the youth within your area of influence. With some prayer and divine guidance, your group can reach your turf with the power of the gospel.