Mobilizing teenagers to evangelize their peers can be a challenge. To do this then you must figure out how you can help crank up the thermostat when it comes to sharing the gospel. Here are 10 ways you can raise the temperature in your youth ministry:
1. Make praying for unreached teenagers part of your programming.
Whether you’re opening the youth meeting in prayer or leading a small group of teenagers don’t forget to pray for the lost. Bowed knees for the unreached can keep evangelism top of mind for teenagers and adult volunteers alike. This doesn’t have to take a long time but it should be passionate, powerful and persistent. Why? Because when you consistently call out to God on behalf of the lost then, not only is heaven moved to action, but so are your teenagers.
In Romans 10:1 Paul made his evangelistic intentions clear to the mostly Jewish believers living in Rome, “Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.” Paul’s passion raised the temperature of the Jewish believers’ evangelistic efforts to their own people. It will do the same for your teenagers.
2. Have your teenagers identify 1-3 of their unreached friends that they will commit to praying for consistently.
At Dare 2 Share we use a simple tool called “THE Cause Circle” to help facilitate this process. It enables teenagers to identify a handful of teenagers that need reached (classmates, teammates, co-workers, etc) and then move them through a prayer-driven process that can turn them into fellow believers and, eventually, disciple-multipliers.
3. Give the gospel every week in youth group.
Paul told the Corinthian believers, “And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” 1 Corinthians 2:1-2. If Paul was a youth leader writing to his youth group this passage could read, “When I came to you I didn’t make my biggest priority playing crazy games or building a fancy youth room, my main focus was Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
When you take whatever your youth group subject of the night is and make a “salvation segue” to the cross you prioritize evangelism. Doing this consistently helps teenagers know that anytime they bring someone who doesn’t know Jesus they will hear a clear presentation of the gospel. This gives them confidence to bring their unreached friends to youth group.
4. Stories, stories and more stories.
When your main youth group meeting and regular small group gatherings become story-telling havens then you have crossed a powerful threshold when it comes to raising the evangelistic temperature. Stories of teenagers coming in Christ, growing in Christ and making more disciples is the real party ready to happen in your youth group.
One of the reasons that I’m convinced many teenagers drop out of youth group in their later years is that the fun and games get stale and the lessons feel redundant. Many juniors and seniors I’ve talked to feel they’ve outgrown the youth ministry and have better stuff to do as they prepare for life after high school.
What will counteract this attitude is being a part of community where teenagers are consistently coming to Christ and growing in Christ. It’s hard NOT to take a youth ministry seriously that is truly making disciples. I was part of one growing up and we had so many juniors and seniors sticking around that we turned many of them into youth leaders for the younger graders.
Why did they stick around? Because lives were being transformed by the gospel! Yes we had fun and games! Sure we did fun and stupid stuff! But all of it was missionized and gospelized. As a result God was glorified and disciples were multiplied!
5. Inspire and train your teenagers to evangelize.
Teens need to know why they should share their faith. And there are plenty of reasons for teenagers to do just that (the glory of God, rescuing people from the hell they are headed to and the one they are living through, etc.) Get your teenagers motivated to share their faith and then equip them to do it.
6. Start with your student leadership team.
The saying is true, “Everything rises or falls on leadership.” So, if you can get your key leaders sharing their faith, then the rest of the youth group will follow. This may be the hardest work of all because in many youth groups the student leaders are the clean and shiny teenagers who know all the right verses but don’t necessarily know any lost teenagers. They float from holy huddle to holy huddle in their Bible bubbles and never take time to get in the grit with the unreached.
These are not the kinds of teenagers that will lead the way and set the pace…unless, you, through the power of the Holy Spirit, find that switch in their souls that will go from off to on when it comes to faith sharing. The good news is that when this brand of teenager is motivated they usually make great evangelists and pace-setters because they already know the verses and theology.
Stay persistent and don’t give up until your student leaders are leading students to Christ…and setting the pace for the rest of your youth group in the process.
7. Live it yourself.
Everything I wrote about student leaders is doubly true of you. If you want your teenagers to be warm to evangelism then you have got to be hot. If you want them to be hot then you have to be blazing. If you want them to be blazing then…(you get the idea.)
I pray these 7 ways help you crank up the evangelistic heat in your youth group.