Teens will discuss romantic relationships, family disagreements, and anonymous confessions online but when many of them sit face to face with their peers, it can be difficult for them to start and maintain deep conversations. Many teens in my own youth group will not discuss their personal beliefs with a peer or other adult that they do not totally trust. To many Christians, this may seem like the death of evangelism. However, the youth of today have continued to prove their love and concern for their neighbor in acts of service.
John Wesley considered these acts a way that God’s great hand of grace enters the world through the hands and feet of those who love Christ.
Evangelism isn’t dead in youth ministry, it has simply taken on a different form. Instead of going door to door and starting conversations with people they haven’t met, teens are excited to serve their friends and neighbors in the name of Jesus. Often, when friends and neighbors see these acts of service they will ask a question. Why? This powerful question can be the open door for students to share their faith and invite new people to know the love and grace of God.
When students hear this question they may be tempted to say a quick phrase about Jesus and move on to a different subject. As youth leaders, we can train our students to slow down for a few moments and answer this question with their personal testimony about the ways that God has worked in their lives so far.
Why? This can be a powerful question for our youth and their passion for service driven evangelism because it can spark faith conversations. 1 Peter 3:15 argues that everyone should be ready to give an answer about their hope in Christ. In the same way, students are encouraged to give an answer to those that ask about the hope our students have found in their ongoing relationship with God.
Training teenagers to answer this question in a meaningful way will take time and intentionality. Challenge students to identify where God is at work in their lives throughout their time in youth group.
This type of mentoring can take time and effort but will help students begin to think deeply when asked questions about their faith for the rest of their lives. Students who leave our youth ministries being able to effectively communicate their faith to others will be successful in sharing the Gospel to those outside of the church.
Training students to answer this simple question is only the first step. You will also need to help them dream up the ways that they might serve their friends and neighbors. The first step in this process may be getting students out of their comfort zone on a short-term mission trip where they can begin to share their testimony and practice answering this question. In your local context, don’t be afraid to use students to dream up events like buying pizza for their friends to visit church, taking food to neighbors from the church who would otherwise not have groceries, and working with the children’s department during evangelistic events like VBS. Serving others doesn’t have to be a large scale event, if the event helps your students connect with people that don’t know Christ then it will be a win for the Kingdom of God.