Many of us come to youth ministry evangelism from an invitational mindset. We’ve been all about encouraging our students to invite their friends out to youth group so the unreached can hear an adult tell them about Jesus. In this invitational evangelism model, when the unchurched show up at our weekly meetings or organized outreach activities, many of us see ourselves as the team quarterback whose there to lob the quick touchdown pass and nail the ‘conversion’ point.
Stepping into the coach’s role
Now don’t get me wrong, I believe it’s critically important that we give the gospel each week at our youth group meetings and that we rejoice over every soul who gets introduced to Jesus through our meetings. But I’m convinced that we would see even more fruit from our evangelism efforts if we shifted our perspective away from being the quarterback who’s standing at the ready to deliver the touchdown pass, and instead started to see ourselves as the team coach.
The coach’s job is to train and equip the individual members of the team with the skills they need to get off the bench and into the game themselves. The coach’s job is to explain the strategy, refine the skill sets and techniques and motivate the team to bring their best to the game.
Cultivating an evangelism mindset
Evangelism can’t just be an occasional curriculum topic we brush up against once or twice a year, or even a quarterly outreach meeting we organize with all the bells and whistles. It has to be a mindset we’re cultivating year round in our students as we coach them week in and week out so they can get off the bench and into the game. Ephesians 4:11-13 describes the teacher’s job this way:
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if it were our teens who were initiating spiritual conversations and sharing their faith one-on-one with their friends? When another teen comes to them stressed out about grades or hurting because someone backstabbed them, what better way for our teens to step into the distress and talk about the strength and comfort they’ve found from having a personal relationship with God? Or image the impact if they’d bring Jesus into the conversation with their friends who are looking for direction or purpose in life.
Coaching and equipping teens to do the work of evangelism
Are you coaching and equipping the teens in your spiritual care to do the work of evangelism? Or are you behaving more like the quarterback than the coach?
You don’t have to be gifted or “an expert” in evangelism to coach your team. But you should be leading the way by your own example, seeking to personally share your faith with others and letting your teens in on your efforts, sharing with them about both the successes and the failures you’re experiencing as you share your faith. The example of your own life, coupled with your intentional efforts to coach your teens regarding the basic gospel-sharing essentials, will help your students develop a heart for the lost and a lifelong ability to share their faith with their friends.