This is part five in my seven part series on keeping your youth ministry from collapsing. You can read from the beginning here.
Infrastructure isn’t sexy, but every youth ministry has to have it to keep moving.
The fifth pillar that will keep your youth ministry for collapsing is a heart for evangelism. Notice I said evangelism and not outreach. There is a difference, in my opinion, between the two. You can have an outreach and not share the gospel, Jesus Came, Jesus died, Jesus rose from the dead. Evangelism is a desire for kids to no just attend an event but to come to Christ.
Having a heart for evangelism is more than a feeling, a desire or program, it’s a lifestyle. Jesus wept for Jerusalem because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus cried out “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”.
This is not to say that you take on the role of a weeping prophet, crying for the pulpit every week, but a determined prophet who is committed to the transferring of not just principles but the essence of God’s heart to be rejoined to people.
How does a youth ministry do this, it doesn’t start with tactics, it starts with your DNA and the non-negotiables of your youth ministry.
If you are not sharing your faith in some way every week, you won’t have much to share with your students. I would often throw myself into a situation, by faith, where I had to share my faith.
There was a man riding through our city with a bucket. It looked odd. Then, one day, I saw him walking. I felt compelled to ask him if he needed a ride. Come to find out he had a window washing business and was walking to his jobs. So, I picked him up and drove him to all the jobs he had that day, sharing Christ as we drove.
Also, he was a drug addict who needing money. When I told this story to my youth, they thought I was crazy, but I wanted then to know, sometimes God asks us to do crazy stuff.
This is the sweet spot for most pastors. Preaching evangelism is the easy part, but preaching can be a catalyst for people to catch the passion, for other people.
When you preach on evangelism, there’s not need to go heavy on the fact that kids are not sharing their faith, they already know that. Preach about
- Why people matter to God
- God’s love for a lost world
- The penalty of sin
- The joy of heaven
- The power of the Holy Spirit to help us share Jesus
Condemnation only leads to defeat. It’s a de-motivator. Student have to see themselves as vessels of God’s mighty power not blunt instruments slaving away for youth ministry or church. Sharing one’s faith should be a journey and joy and something they look forward to not fear and dread.
Teaching witnessing techniques is part of the process learning how to share ones faith but it can come across like a bad car salesman. There needs to be a component, be it a small group, Sunday school or part of a retreat etc., where teaching the How To and How Not To’s of faith sharing get taught and where kids can ask questions and even challenge our ideas.
We don’t live in their world, most you may not even remember how hard it was to share your faith when you were their age. Be empathetic to that.
Here are a few ways to teach kids how to share the gospel with others
Most youth worker are good at two and three, but actually giving kids a short at sharing their faith, not so much. Most students do not have a model of what it looks like to share your faith. If their parents don’t do it, it’s all theory to them.
I work with an organization called First Priority which helps students start bible clubs in their schools and we have a strategy that builds kids up over a series of weeks culminating in the sharing of the gospel, it looks like this
H– Help kids understand the need to share the gospel
O– Overcome your fears and doubts of sharing the gospel
P– Prepare to share the gospel
E – Engage in sharing the gospel
If we cover the first three but do not give them a chance to share, the first three weeks are a waste. No different in your youth ministry. If you are the only person who share Jesus in your youth meetings, you’ve snatched a growing opportunity from your students.
- Share their testimony in youth and church
- Let students do the altar call or commitment to Christ at the end of the service
- Video students sharing why Jesus is important to them.
- Have students record their testimony and share it with friends.
- Take a few students out and actually share Christ in your neighborhood.
There are certainly more ways to give kids an opportunity to share the gospel and you need to offer them as often as possible. The more they do it, the more comfortable they will get with doing it.
A youth program that does not have a heart for evangelism is waiting to crumble. Without the life changing gospel, you are running a club for kids rather than a mission for disciples. When students see Christ working in them to reach others and draw them to the Father, and watch live change, that will only increase their passion to share the good news.
Give your students a chance to experience this, over and over and your youth ministry will never collapse.
If you are interest in some great books on evangelism training I recommend,
A heart for evangelism is less taught and more caught. When students see themselves and their youth ministry reaching out and seeing others come to Christ, that is when the light comes on. Live it. Preach It. Teach It. Do it.