Time is one of life’s most precious commodities. It is the only resource that cannot be bought. As a youth leader, you have your students for a limited amount of time. Are you using that time for maximum impact?
Jason Loewen, a youth leader in Michigan, lived on the “busy, busy, busy” treadmill of ministry, rushing from one youth activity to the next. While he worked tirelessly to plan activities and events for his students, he had so much on his plate that he failed to see that the fruit of all his ministry efforts was more social than spiritual.
Jason’s clarity was clouded by his busyness.
But one eventful weekend Jason attended a youth leader training session at a Dare 2 Share student conference and realized that enough was enough. It was time to rethink his ministry approach.
So Jason began asking himself, “What if? What if we scratched the stuff that wasn’t producing much fruit, and focused on a couple of things that had real potential for spiritual change in the lives of our teenagers?” Because he was committed to building a thriving Gospel Advancing Ministry, he began to put every event, program, camp and activity under the microscope by asking this question: “How is this going to draw my kids closer to Jesus and help them live on mission with the gospel?”
The Turning Point
This marked a turning point in his ministry. As he shifted his calendar programming decisions to reflect his gospel advancing priority, Jason decided to bring eight students to Lead THE Cause (LTC), where they were motivated and mobilized to live on mission for Christ and His Cause by making disciples who make disciples. During their week at LTC, they learned how to prioritize relational evangelism in their own lives and how to lead the way within their youth group. As a result, when Jason’s students got back home to Michigan they began to share their faith and to recruit their fellow Christians to do the same.
Try This! ❯
Gather your students in a circle this week and pray for their unreached friends who don’t know Jesus.
Within a year’s time, Jason’s group’s “new conversion growth” rate had grown to an astounding 50%! Fifty percent of the students regularly attending the youth group had placed their faith in Christ within the past year as a direct result of someone in the ministry sharing the gospel with them.
Isn’t it amazing what can happen when you start to program your priorities? That’s why Value 7 of a Gospel Advancing Ministry is all about aligning your ongoing programs with your gospel advancing priorities.
3 Important Truths about Programming Your Priorities
So here are three important truths about programming your priorities that will help you begin to fold Value 7 into your own ministry.
1. Your priorities will always be reflected in your programs
Your messages and events should align with the 7 Values of a Gospel Advancing Ministry. A simple way to start evaluating whether your programming reflects these priorities is to sit down and take a hard look at your currently scheduled activities. If your programs don’t support your gospel-advancing vision, then trim them out like Jason did. (And if you don’t have a ministry calendar, now is a great time to build one out and begin to program your priorities. For help, check out How to Gospelize Your Calendar.)
2. Your priorities can sometimes be complicated by genuine problems
Our youth rooms are full of broken teens struggling with real problems like self-image, sexuality and family dynamics. While these problems are important, sometimes it’s easy to become sidetracked by them. One way to keep practical needs from sidetracking you is to recruit adult volunteers who can come alongside individual students to help them in their struggles. Another way to avoid being sidetracked is to “gospelize” everything you do. For example, if you help raise money for a family or counsel a student, always create a pathway to lead the person closer to God.
3. Your priorities must be constantly protected by laser-like focus
Staying focused means keeping your eyes on gospel advancement. For example, is intercessory prayer for the unreached a priority? Then build it into your weekly rundown sheet. Is the gospel central to your messaging? Then segue to the gospel each week in your teaching time. Hearing the gospel presented regularly allows unreached students to hear the message and respond, but it also serves as training for your Christian students as they listen in on how to clearly explain it to others.
All too soon your students will be leaving you. Make the most of your time with them by programming your priorities. Help them learn to live on mission for Christ and His Cause!
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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, weekly resource in your inbox!