For a long time, I would struggle to get any new teens to come to my ministry. Anyone who was new was just coming up through the ranks but hardly anyone came from the outside community. All we were was a youth ministry for insiders.
If you want your youth ministry to grow and have an impact on the community you need to encourage and challenge teens to go out share their faith. Sounds simple, but it can be intimidating that’s why you need to:
PROVIDE THEM WITH A STRATEGY
To just tell teenagers to go and share their story seems like a daunting task. Break it down into something they can handle. At Church of the Nativity, we would share a strategy called Invest and Invite.
We told people to invest in those around them personally. Get to know the individual through a common interest like sports, entertainment, etc. Then when there was trust and they felt the relationship was strong, they would invite their friend to get to know Christ a little bit more.
That invitation could be to come with them to church or to simply talk about their faith journey. We then gave them strategies on telling their story, but in the end the Invest and Invite method broke down an intimidating term like EVANGELIZATION.
GIVE THEM AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT EVANGELIZATION LOOKS LIKE
If you’ve never heard someone share their faith then you can’t expect them to instantly know how. As the leader of the youth ministry, it falls on you to show teens how to share their faith.
Whether you share it in a large gathering or as a part of a small group know your own story. That means being able to tell teens:
- Why you are passionate about your faith.
- How and when God has impacted your decisions and path.
- Where you’ve failed or struggled to trust and allow God to lead you.
- Who or what has helped you grow in your faith.
Get personal with your story and make it a part of your natural interaction with teens. If they hear you talking about your faith and showing them how it’s a part of your everyday life you’ve given them a model. And by modeling, you will have given them a foundation on how to share their faith.
HELP THEM DIVE INTO THEIR OWN STORY
To ask a teenager to share their faith story without any context is difficult. They need to know how to explore it on their own.
Start with having them explore their relationship with God through prayer practices like Ignatian discernment or devotionals.
Next, encourage them to write out what they are thinking and feeling. Have them share those thoughts with their small group leader or you.
By helping them process their relationship with Christ it’s going to teach them how to express their faith. It will help them look at a faith as something more than just a subject.
PROVIDE SAFE OPPORTUNITIES TO TRY
On top of sharing their faith with you or another adult leader, you need to get them in front of their peers. This is where small groups are so helpful. You can create an exercise where small group participants:
- Write out their own faith story.
- Share it with the rest of the participants each week.
- Pray over the person sharing their story.
You can also give teens an opportunity to share it in front of the rest of the youth ministry if you have a large group setting. It’ll be a bigger audience but also give them the confidence to share in front of people they might not know as well.
Teenagers need to learn how to share their own story because it will not only bring in new kids but build confidence in their own faith. They’ll develop clarity around the relationship they have with God and it’ll motivate them to commit further to the local church.This isn’t a habit that develops overnight and it is something that takes practices. But, when you make a commitment to instilling this habit the results are profound. Not only will teens be more encouraged to share their faith with their peers but you’ll give them confidence in their relationship with Christ.
To develop this habit takes time so be sure to encourage them constantly. Help them embrace the power of getting personal with their faith and sharing it with others. The impact it’ll have is amazing.
Question: How do you help teens share their faith through your ministry? You can leave a comment by clicking here.