For many Christians—youth leaders included—evangelism is the “red-headed stepchild” of our ministries. It makes us feel uncomfortable, embarrassed and guilty.
In fact, just the mention of the word “evangelism” can leave us feeling…
But Jesus had a totally different mindset about this grand calling He’s given us to share His message of grace with others: the gospel is news too good to keep to ourselves!
So how do you go about triggering a seismic attitude shift in your ministry when it comes to attitudes about evangelism? You inspire–which is Key #3 in our “5 Keys to Nurturing a Faith-Sharing Focus” energize series.
But how do you inspire those under your spiritual guidance to get serious about sharing their faith? I believe one of the key components needed to inspire others is that we lead the way with expectancy.
What is Expectancy?
The dictionary defines expectancy as “To look forward with pleasurable anticipation.” In youth ministry, the definition might look more like this: “The permanent and unshakeable belief that God will routinely do a significant Kingdom work in our midst.”
Jesus cultivated expectancy in His disciples by building their faith. For example, in Matthew 10 Jesus sends the twelve out to actually DO ministry. And in Mark 6, when confronted with the task of feeding a multitude, Jesus challenges them to think outside the box with a simple statement: “You give them something to eat.”
You must lead your group with the expectancy that God is large and in charge and will work in and through your students to further His Kingdom.
Getting your students engaged in real faith-building ministry activities—where they actually have to lean on God and not just draw on their own skills and abilities— creates spaces where they will encounter the power of God at work in and through them! Christian pastor and author Tim Keller puts it like this: “Teenagers have more information about God than they have experience of Him. Get them in places where they have to rely on God.”
Practical Ways to Create Expectancy
For Yourself – Prayer. Pray your roster each week. Pray over each chair that a student will occupy during your meeting or event. Remember chairs=students=lives changed. Prayer walk your facilities. Prayer walk the schools your students attend and the neighborhood your church is located in. Do it with your adult volunteers. Do it with your students. I’m not talking here about a “name it and claim it” attitude, but I am talking about regularly storming the throne room of God in prayer, and begging Him with unshakeable faith, to do a significant Kingdom work in your midst.
For Your Students – Program. You’ve heard it before: “You program your priorities.” If you believe evangelism is a priority, your programming should reflect that. Challenge your students (and your adults—yourself included) to be actively sharing their faith. Don’t treat evangelism like a once a year, self-contained lesson unit. Make it a day-to-day expectation. Keep it in the forefront of your public prayer times during youth group. Think about it with each lesson application. Have a time to share stories every week—at Dare 2 Share, we call this “Take 5 for THE Cause.” Take 5 is a time for students (and adults) to report back on their efforts to engage their friends and classmates about spiritual issues and to pray for them. Encourage stories that share the good, the bad and the ugly.
Next issue, I’ll provide you with a small group Bible study discussion guide to help you motivate your students to share their faith—straight from the pages of Scripture. But between now and then, be creative. Start praying and programming evangelism into the DNA of your group. As you plan your next youth group meeting, ask yourself “What have I done to program expectancy that my students will become increasingly serious about sharing their faith with their friends who need Jesus?”
Implement one idea in the next two weeks that will create expectancy in the area of faith-sharing and inspire your students to get serious about THE Cause of making disciples who make disciples.