Recently I was waiting for several hours at the Dallas airport to catch a flight home. The original flight was canceled, then we switched gates (twice), and now we were finally strapped in—so ready to take off! You could hear in the conversations and see by the look on the passengers’ faces that we all had one goal in mind as we waited another long hour on the tarmac: Let’s go already!
Similarly, once you get your adult and student leaders aligned around a common Gospel Advancing vision, the next step in your Gospel Advancing journey is to introduce key changes to your weekly programming. Here are four simple steps to get started:
1. Make prayer a staple.
It’s been said that the average church spends more time in announcements than in prayer. That’s a heartbreaking truth to think about! When I heard it, I was convicted to change things in our group’s schedule. After all, Jesus quoted the Father as saying: “My house will be called a house of prayer” (Matthew 21:13). I was determined to carve out time every single week for creative ways to communicate with God. Here are some ideas to try:
- Prayer stations. Before students arrive, set up three or four stations that invite students to spend time with Jesus, using prayer prompts and their various senses. They might create artwork, write out a prayer, listen to music, or light a scented candle. Be sure to include prayer for friends and family they’re trying to reach with the Gospel.
- Prayer walks. Surprise your students by leading them on a prayer walk around your church, the neighborhood, or a nearby school. Give them prompts verbally, through texts, or on pieces of paper.
- Prayer Post-its. Give each student a small stack of sticky notes, and ask them to write the names of people they’re trying to care for and share the Gospel with. Stick them all around a large room, put on reflective worship music, and ask students to walk around and pray for the people whose names are on the papers.
2. Include “Take 5 for THE Cause.”
Take 5 is a five-minute segment of your weekly youth group, during which students and leaders share brief stories about Gospel conversations they’ve had the previous week. It’s a time to both celebrate when a conversation goes well and encourage when it was difficult. The first few times you try it, consider having a few adult and student leaders prepared with stories. Once you begin this process, you’ll be amazed at how much it changes the culture of your group!
3. Review the G.O.S.P.E.L. acrostic.
It takes time for all of your students to really memorize the G.O.S.P.E.L message, but practicing it in creative ways can speed up the process. Here are some ideas to try:
- During announcement time, have a student leader highlight one of the six statements and explain why that truth is meaningful to them.
- Project from your phone or create slides from screenshots of the Life in 6 Words app, and read through the statement and the Bible verse (found when you click on the book icon in the app) that goes with each letter. Focus on a different letter each week.
- Give a prize to the first student who can accurately recite the statement associated with the letter you choose for that week. Mix up the order so it’s not too predictable.
- Have the group practice saying the G.O.S.P.E.L in a fun way, such as making it a competition between two sides of the room, varying the volume, or varying the speed.
4. Assess your progress.
Each time you gather in smaller discussion groups, include questions about your bold vision. For example, if your group is measuring prayer for the people in everyone’s Cause Circle, you could ask which friends they prayed for that week and remind them to record it in the Life in 6 Words app. Also, consider having a visual display (click here for ideas), so your group can record and see how God is helping you move toward your goals.