It doesn’t take a Bible scholar to conclude we need a youth ministry outreach strategy in our youth ministries, but the looming question of, “How do we do it?” still remains. Remember, youth outreach in a church setting means we are a witness and we build relationships so we have the right to be heard.
First, we need to internalize these five points to create a youth ministry outreach strategy.
1. God focuses on individuals. God cares about our wanderings.
2. God is patient in our wanderings. Three-year-old kids wander to lostness. Our God allows humanity to nimble our way to lostness. God allows for process. We as the youth workers need to be OK that we are the planters of the seeds. We are not in a business that produces an overnight product.
3. God pursues us. God is the greatest seeker of all time. Jesus Christ in on the move seeking the lost. We get to follow him. We get to walk with him. We don’t fall into a typical evangelism, we have to pursue it!
4. God rejoices when we respond to his initiatives.
5. God restores us. I tell you the truth, which means I mean business.
Bottom line: The heart of youth outreach means: We have the heart of Christ. The things that motivate Jesus motivate us. We must have a commitment to an individual.
Second, here are our two youth ministry outreach strategies.
Strategy #1: Contact work. This is where it all begins. Go build contacts with kids. There are three levels of contact work that must be evident in order to build trust:
1) Be seen. For example, go to football games and go to school lunches. In order to be heard, you need to be seen. Being seen is the staple move for being an incarnational witness.
2) Talk with all types of kids. Talking with kids will allow for you to identify where they are and understand their world. Ask a lot of questions. You shouldn’t be doing a lot of the talking, rather you should be doing a lot of asking of questions.
3) Do something together. First Thessalonians 2:22 demonstrates how Paul did contact work. He visited and talked and hung out with the communities to which he was writing.
When doing contact work, make sure to steer away from the danger of just hanging out. At some point, the message of reconciliation to God must be communicated. Being an incarnational witness has to have a message of Jesus attached to it.
Strategy #2: The Process of adolescent witness (CPR)
Care for students.
Six ways to find common ground in caring for students:
1. Be yourself.
2. Be real and appropriately vulnerable, approachable, drop down your walls and do not bring in your personal self. For example, “Man, I’m really struggling with drinking.” Or, “Back in high school, I was drunk the whole time.”
3. Be respectful. We do not condone behavior. We listen, not dictate.
4. Be simple. Every word needs to be accessed. Bridge a common language.
5. If you can, remember what life was like without Christ.
6. Look forward to the future. We look forward to the time when they will take the Gospel seriously. That is our motivational force.
Pray (Eph. 6:19-20).
Respond to the chances God gives.
Six things to keep in mind when God gives us the opportunity:
1. Ask for permission to talk about Jesus. Do not slip Him on the side. Once you finally think they are ready to hear the message of Jesus, ask if it is OK to start talking about God.
2. Talk about your personal experience. Experience with Christ. Best if it is present tense. A testimony that is happening now, not in the past.
3. Ask if they have had a similar experience with Jesus Christ.
4. As conversation develops naturally, when the Holy Spirit calls you to, move it to the message of the Gospel—to be reconciled to God. Message of the Gospel: Christ, Sin, Cross, Response.
5. Talk about walking with Jesus. This implies repentance. Christ does not demand the sinner prayer—but to follow Him.
6. Invite them to respond right there to accept Christ.
7. Follow up—with inclusion in a congregational setting.