“Gospelize” is an old English word for evangelize. It’s a cool word with an old flair that engages our postmodern teenagers with the ancient quest of going into all the world to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). If you really want to get your teenagers engaged in telling “the greatest story ever told that’s hardly ever told” (to quote my good friend Propaganda), then here are five simple action steps you can take right away in your youth ministry:
1. Spend more time in prayer.
For the last few years we’ve been programming into our Dare 2 Share weekend conferences an extended time in prayer. These mini concerts of prayer have been an exciting and somewhat surprising realization for me. I’ve realized that, given the right context, teenagers deep down inside really want to pray. What if you took 10 minutes of every meeting, maybe right in the middle of a worship set, and allowed teenagers to pray in small groups, silently, and even had a few come up to an open mic? Or, like one youth leader in Chicago, get your teenagers in a big circle at the end of the youth group meeting to hold hands and pray for their friends to come to Christ, their schools to be reached and for them to be filled with the Holy Spirit as they go back to school.
2. Give the Gospel consistently.
Do you believe, like Romans 1:16 asserts, that the gospel “is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes”? If so, do you give the gospel every time you have youth group? When you do, you begin to “gospelize” your youth ministry and create a context where teenagers hear the Good News consistently and begin to take the Good News personally. Not only will more and more yet-to-be-reached teenagers put their faith in Jesus, but more and more Christian teenagers will begin to understand the Good News is something they (and we) need to continue to hear and apply every day of their lives. As someone once said, “I preach the gospel to myself every day because I forget it every day.”
3. Train your teenagers to share the Gospel.
Not only should we give the Gospel, but we should train our teenagers to share the Gospel. Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 4:19, “Follow me and I will show you how to fish for people.” In this singular phrase Jesus forever links discipleship with evangelism. If we are truly serious about discipleship, we will get very serious about evangelism. But how do you train your teenagers to share the good news of Jesus in a non-obnoxious way? Here are three options:
• Have them download the Dare 2 Share app and read the Dare 2 Share Field Guide. Both of these work in synergy to fully equip your teenagers to share the good news “from takeoff to touchdown” in a biblical and relevant way.
• Get them out to a Dare 2 Share conference. For a crash course in evangelism, it’s hard to beat a Dare 2 Share weekend event. This year our theme is “Live it up” based on the life and ministry of Jesus.
• Take them to Lead THE Cause. If you’re ready to take your teenagers to the next level then there’s nothing like Lead THE Cause. Based on 60 years of combined evangelism training and disciple multiplication experience (between Dare 2 Share and Sonlife) this highly-intensive, super-interactive week is a bootcamp for effective evangelism. Out of all the events we do, this is the one I’m convinced is the most effective when it comes to getting teenagers to share their faith for a lifetime.
4. Share stories.
There’s nothing like hearing teenagers share evangelistic stories in youth group that will motivate other teenagers to join in. Storytelling infuses evangelism into the DNA of a youth ministry culture. Like a modern day retelling of the book of Acts, your youth ministry can become a campfire of sorts where teenagers share the latest exploits of the Holy Spirit in and through them as they share the Gospel with their peers. The more your teenagers are gospelized, the more stories they will have to tell. Prayer and evangelism training will do nothing but fuel the movement.
5. Why? What? How? Now!
From conferences to curriculum, we at Dare 2 Share put everything through the simple grid of “Why? What? How? Now!” Does what we are teaching give a big enough “why?” In other words, is it inspirational enough to get a teenager off the bench and into the game? Never underestimate the power of an inspirational story, quote or sermon to motivate teenagers to action. Then comes “what?” This is the delivery of the content you are helping teenagers to understand and embrace. After that comes the “how?” This is when teenagers learn how to put what they’ve learned into practice. Finally comes “now!” This is when teenagers take what they’ve learned how to do and immediately put it into practice. This teaching strategy combines motivation (why?) with information (what?) with application (how?) and, finally, with activation (now!). Of course, this teaching strategy works with subjects outside of sharing the gospel too.
Take these five action steps and you’ll begin to gospelize your youth group in ways you’ve never imagined. Also, stay tuned for a new book I just wrote (to be released this Fall) called “Gospelize Your Youth Ministry.”