Some youth leaders have a student leadership team that has formal meetings. Others have a more informal team that meets before or after youth group. A vast array of workable options for how you structure your student leaderships’ involvement and training exist, because there are such a wide range of different contexts and circumstances, even with your own student leadership team. This range of needs forces you to be flexible as you pour into a select group of students you are seeking to disciple and teach leadership skills to.
But no matter how you’ve chosen to structure your student leadership approach, one of the most essential elements of your leadership training needs to address the reality that your student leaders are being bombarded with a message from the culture that it doesn’t matter what you believe about spiritual things, as long as you are sincere. And this “all truth is relative” messaging from our culture, more often than not, translates into a mindset that views the exclusiveness of Jesus’ statement “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me,” as intolerant and unwelcome.
The more incessantly our culture sends this message, the more critical it becomes that you lay the right Gospel Advancing Ministry groundwork with your student leaders. To build a thriving Gospel Advancing Ministry, you need their whole-hearted buy-in. Obviously, this is a process that takes time and nurture, but if you hope to see your students making disciples who make disciples, your student leaders are a good place to start. And this includes infusing effective relational evangelism training into your time with these students. Here are three steps to help your student leadership team begin to grasp the “Why, What, How, Now” of Gospel Advancement.
- WHY Advance the Gospel?
First off, your student leaders need to understand why building a Gospel Advancing Ministry is so important. The idea of a Gospel Advancing Ministry is simple: To develop a youth ministry where the good news of Jesus is moving both deeply into the souls of your teenagers, and outwardly through your teenagers to others. That’s it. But your students need to understand that this goal is not exclusively your idea, it comes straight out of the Great Commission (or as we call it at Dare 2 Share, THE Cause) in Matthew 28:19.
The gospel is the hope of the world. When the love and truth of Jesus’ message break through, along with the immeasurable gift of eternal life, they also bring a whole new, fresh purpose and meaning to life here and now. Pray and communicate that truth to your student leaders, so they begin to see that, done right, every gospel conversation is an act of love.
Try This! ❯
Spend time with your student leader’s this week in a setting that will allow you to model how to initiate a gospel conversation.
- WHAT to Communicate During a Gospel Conversation
Next, your student leaders need to know what to say when it’s time to share a clear, engaging gospel message with love and sensitivity. Whether you teach them the GOSPEL acrostic, or encourage the use of some other approach to sharing their faith, they need to know the mechanics of a gospel conversation from takeoff to touchdown. For quick, easy help with this check out Greg Stier’s YouTube video, A 4 Minute Crash Course in Sharing Your Faith.
Your investment in your student leaders’ lives in order get them trained in what to say when they share the gospel can help to give them the courage to fear not in this culture. So continue being flexible with their ever changing schedules. Don’t give up on them. They need you now more than ever.
- HOW Does a Gospel Conversation Actually Work?
Finally, your student leaders need to actually SEE how to share the gospel. They need to watch as relational evangelism is being modeled. One of the most effective ways to do this is to go to their school for lunch…with pizza in hand! For some of you, this may not be possible and you’ll need to find another strategy for making this happen. But in most schools, if you are able to get your student leaders to have their parents call the school administration and request that you eat lunch with them, the school will agree. So pray, grab a couple of pizzas, sign in at the school office if so required and head for the cafeteria to meet up with your student leaders.
Let your student leaders know you are coming and tell them why you are coming. Don’t let them isolate themselves from their friends. Through some well-placed questions you can model for them how to start gospel conversations with their friends. The Dare 2 Share Salt clips, available free on YouTube are great tools for this. (Note: You can more thoroughly prepare your students to use this clips by taking them through the five-week, DVD-based Salt curriculum.) However, you choose to start the gospel conversations, the beautiful thing is that once the conversation has been initiated, your students have the opportunity to continue these conversations long after that lunch. You have already set the process in motion between your student leaders and some of their friends! And in most cases, their friends aren’t turned off by you or the conversation, if for no other reason than pizza covers a multitude of offences.Pizza covers a multitude of offences. Click To Tweet
Of course, you’ll want to take all your students down this same path of “Why, What, How, Now” when it comes to sharing the gospel. But if you start with your student leaders, they can help set the pace so that the rest of the group follows.
P.S. Dare 2 Share LIVE, happening on September 23rd all across the country, provides a great opportunity to kick start this process in your youth group!
Want more practical advice on mobilizing your teens to share the gospel? All of our Mobilize stories offer great ideas for training your students and building a Gospel Advancing Ministry. Sign up here to receive this free, hands-on resource in your inbox!