Creating a Gospel-Sharing Culture in Your Student Ministry

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I love helping young people boldly and naturally share their faith. You probably do, too. It’s euphoric to see a teenager’s fear and worry turned into confidence in their witness, but it doesn’t happen by accident. People don’t stumble into evangelistic efficiency.  They must be equipped.

The good news is that they show up in droves on a weekly basis expecting to be taught, trained, and challenged—and yes, for the pizza. We have an opportunity to not only introduce these young people to Jesus, but to set their hearts ablaze for His mission, “Go and make disciples” (Matt. 28:19).

So, allow me a few moments to share four keys to creating a gospel-sharing culture in your ministry.

 Expand Their Focus

Equipping teenagers starts long before a sermon on the Great Commission. It begins by expanding their focus beyond the walls of the church. Not changing their focus. Expanding it. Every sermon, small group, and event should help to develop both their inward and outward focus.

For many teenagers, church is all about them—their own personal sin, growth, and relationship with Jesus. The focus is mostly, if not completely, inward. But what would happen if we intentionally developed their outward focus with the same priority and passion? I believe we’d see healthy, Spirit-filled teenagers begin to reach their own personal Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and beyond (Acts 1:8).

Practice, Practice, Practice

There are a thousand reasons believers avoid sharing the gospel, and most all of them begin with the words, “what if…?” This is why intentional equipping is so crucial. Football players run the same play over and over in practice. Drama students rehearse lines 107 times. And yet, we often expect teenagers to seek out meaningful gospel conversations in the real world equipped only with a few verses and a powerful challenge at the end of a sermon.

Instead, consider setting some time aside for students to practice with safe people who love them. Preparation matters because people matter, and as believers, we have a responsibility to represent Christ well (2 Cor. 5:20-21). So, create scenarios, assign parts, and let them screw up, say the wrong thing, and become a little more comfortable sharing what they believe. If it goes poorly, rewind and try again. Giving students time to practice gospel conversations is an incredible way to help them overcome their fears and build confidence.

Walk Your Talk

Teenagers crave authenticity. They don’t want to be told what to do but shown by those they admire. Building a gospel-sharing culture starts at the top. Sure, I could easily preach on prayer and challenge my students to pray with a friend this week, but how much more powerful would it be if I joined them or shared a recent example of how I prayed with my neighbor?

Share your victories, missed opportunities, and gospel-sharing blunders. Invite students to grow with you, not just because of you. Linking arms with young people is crucial to creating lasting change in their lives. Much like Paul was to Timothy, be the vulnerable and authentic leader they will follow into a life of evangelism.

Celebrate Conversations, Not Only Conversions

How are we measuring gospel-sharing success? Many people feel the need to “close the deal,” thinking anything less than a prayer of repentance is a failure. But success in evangelism isn’t measured by conversions. It’s measured by faithful gospel conversations.

When a teenager boldly shares their faith only to be harshly rejected, it’s easy for them to feel like a failure and vow never to try again. While we can’t stop negative reactions, we can help our students understand what true success is.

Instead of highlighting only the positive conversations, salvation prayers, and repentant reactions, highlight the faithfulness and boldness of students. Celebrate together when the gospel is proclaimed, no matter the result. As Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 3:7, our job is not to close the deal, but faithfully plant and water the seed. God changes hearts, not us. Regularly reminding your students of this will help to create a bold gospel-sharing culture.

 

Helping teenagers grow gracefully in their walk with Christ and seek the lost may seem like a daunting task, but once you begin to see the effects of a gospel-sharing culture—one that strengthens the inward and outward focus, that prioritizes practice, that leads with authentic passion for the lost, and that defines success God’s way—you’ll never see student ministry the same way again.

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