Mobilizing Your Students to Evangelism

I recently did a Live interview with Tim Schmoyer and StudentMinistry.org.  Many Youth Pastors expressed a desire to teach their students to share Christ, and many questions were asked on specific steps to make this happen.  Here are some more thoughts of practical steps we can take:

1. Recognition - We must recognize the importance of evangelism in our youth ministries.  Evangelism is a huge part of discipleship.  Our students must learn to do something with their faith rather than just staying pure.  We make time and space for what's most important to our ministry - it's easy for a Youth Ministry to state they believe in reaching out to others, but it is vital to take practical steps towards making this happen.  From recognition we must move to leadership.

2. Leadership - As with any other spiritual formation we desire our students to learn, we must take the lead.  This could happen in several practical ways:

A. Take the lead in learning more about evangelism.  Read several books on evangelism (I recommend Outbreak, Church Marketing 101, First Impressions, Simply Strategic Growth, Share Jesus Without Fear, The Master Plan of Evangelism to name a few).  

B. Take the lead in praying for non-believers in your community on a daily basis.  Make a list of schools in your area, students you know of, five of your friends who need Christ, etc. that you can bring to God in prayer regularly during your prayer times.

C. Take the lead in practicing evangelism.  Get out of the office and hang out with the un-churched.  Be a friend, pray for others, see what opportunities God opens up for you to share.  Also, look for opportunities to share Christ with people you interact with on a daily basis whom you may not have a relationship with.  Allow God to lead you into these incredible opportunities.  As these instances occur, share with your students what God did through you, and what God is teaching you.

3. Prayer - Prayer is the great essential of every work of spiritual formation in our lives.  A practical way to make this happen is to give your students a printed card with slots for five friends who don't know the Lord (Five Friend Focus Card).  Encourage them fill it out and place it somewhere they will see it on a daily basis.  Regularly remind them to be praying for others.  Also, take some time during regular youth services to dedicate in prayer for non-believers.  God will use these prayers in a mighty way to touch non-believers and also to grow your student's hearts for their friends.  

4. Teaching - As with any spiritual formation you desire to see in your students, teach a month-long series (at least annually) on evangelism.  Rather than trying to inspire your students to reach out, give them practical steps you have been learning on how to do this.  Most Christians want to share Christ, but just don't know how.  Use Scriptures on evangelism, and help your students memorize Scriptures they can share with their friends about Jesus - there is infinite power in the Word of God.

6. Events - Evangelism is not an event - true evangelism is a lifestyle.  However, Jesus and the Apostles had times and places where they presented the Gospel to large crowds of people in an event format.  The power of an event is that it kickstarts our students in evangelism.  Through the power of peer pressure - all the students doing something together - events can be very effective in creating an evangelistic culture in our groups.  Prepare for a big event, mission trip, outreach in your community, take your students to events like Dare2Share or Acquire the Fire, or participate in the Online Missions Trip.  Give yourself adequate time (several months) to promote and recruit to make these events a big success.  From here we encourage them to make it a lifestyle.

7. Persistence - It will take time to make evangelism a part of your youth culture.  For some it may take months or even years, but it will be worth it.  Don't beat your students over the head by redundantly telling them to bring their friends to youth group.  Instead, say the same thing at many different times in many different ways (this is how we create culture).  Use the power of a story to capture your student's imaginations.  Have students share their story of God saving them - especially newly saved ones.  If they are shy, make a video of it.  Share many other stories of what God has done as ordinary people stepped out of their comfort zone to share Christ.

8. Discipleship - This may be the hardest work of all, but we cannot create successful evangelism culture if we don't focus on following up with new believers.  Teach your students by word and example that praying a prayer with their friends is not enough.  During evangelistic events and on a weekly basis (for student's who respond to the Gospel) capture contact information so you can properly stay in touch with new believers concerning their decision.  Set systems in place to assure this is of top priority for your ministry.  I have a friend who Youth Pastored in Indianapolis for many years, who strategically held a retreat 2 weeks after their annual evangelistic event.  All students who made a decision for Christ got a free ticket to this retreat.  He did this because he felt if new believers got several days to hang out and build friendships with others in the youth group, they would have a better chance at sticking.  One year over 160 new students were added to their youth ministry by attending the retreat - they stuck!  It is vital to host a Bible study or retreat for new believers after each evangelistic event, and to personally follow up with every new believer.

You can do it!