It’s youth night and you’re ready to give the message. As the students pile into the youth room and take their seats, you notice James sitting by himself. Thinking back to a conversation you had with him on Sunday, you recall that he was planning on bringing his non-Christian friend to youth group. Not being able to talk to James directly, you make a mental note to speak with him afterwards.
After the service, you approach him and notice a distraught look on his face. Not wanting to make any assumptions about what is bothering James, you ask him how he’s doing. He describes his day and talks about how great the message was and how he wished his friend would have heard it. Using the opportunity wisely, you look at James and tell him something he never expected to hear from his youth leader: “You don’t need me.” An obvious look of confusion crosses James’ face and he says, “I thought you said we needed the church. I want my friends to know Jesus, which is why I try to bring them to youth group, so that you can share the gospel with them.”
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Check out Greg Stier’s new, free evangelism training video, “A 4 Minute Crash Course in Sharing Your Faith.”
Sharing the gospel with others is the mission of the church. Chances are that even though you’ve explained THE Cause to your students at some point, they still struggle in the area of evangelism. Many very likely suffer from evangephobia (click here to check out our training video curriculum of the same name), so instead of sharing the gospel with their friends, classmates and co-workers personally, they invite them to church instead.
While trying to bring friends out to youth group is great, the most effective Gospel Advancing Ministries readily recognize that the best evangelism opportunities frequently happen outside of the church, not inside it. Why? Because unreached teenagers are far more willing to talk about spiritual things with a friend, than they are to visit a church service (Source: “Research: Unchurched Will Talk About Faith, Not Interested in Going to Church,” Lifeway Research, 2016.)Teens are more willing to have a spiritual convo. with a friend, than they are to visit church. Click To Tweet
Rescue station, not a rescue ship
Help your students begin to see church as a search and rescue refueling station, and NOT as a rescue ship. They are coming to the station to be trained, discipled and refueled. Once they leave, they are entering back into the turbulent waters to rescue their unbelieving friends. Of course this doesn’t mean your students can’t invite their friends to youth group or, for that matter, include adults in their spiritual conversations with their friends. Rather, your goal is to challenge them to be a part of THE Cause and to see themselves in the disciple multiplication process.
Develop gospel-advancing curriculum
Students need to grow in their skills and confidence if they are going to share the gospel with their friends. One of the causes of evangephobia is a lack of confidence, so be intentional about your curriculum. For example, think of an employee trying to promote a product they know little about and have no interest in. No one will purchase a product with a bad sales pitch. While students aren’t salesmen, and the gospel isn’t a sales product, there is still a need to explain the gospel in a clear, concise and compelling way. For help with this, check out Greg Stier’s new, free evangelism training video, “A 4 Minute Crash Course in Sharing Your Faith.” Try implementing the GOSPEL acrostic in your youth group. You could write it on a wall or regularly use it during your message. And, if you’d like more help, you can always use the Life in 6 Words curriculum.
Always focus on the mission
Keep the mission of the church at the forefront of your youth ministry program. As often as you can, implement ways to keep the focus on discipleship multiplication. Do this by building purpose into every aspect of your program. Whether you’re playing a game, throwing a party or just hanging out with your students, make the most of your time with them, because every student is eventually leaving you. Help them see the tension between heaven and hell, the reality of sin and how God wants to bring life to a dying world. Try texting your students today and encourage them to start a gospel conversation with their friends.
Helping students see that they do not “need” you to do the rescuing will help mobilize them to reach a generation for Christ. As your teenagers come to understand the urgency of evangelism, they will be more than willing to share the greatest story that was ever told with their friends. Be patient, work hard and equip them to go out into the world in confidence as they persuade a generation to put their faith in Christ.