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How do you reach young teens and tweens with the Gospel?

By Chad Miller

In addition to the tens of things on your to do list, the never-ending quest for balance in your ministry/personal schedule, the mounting list of emails that have gone unanswered and voice mails that you’ve saved for the last possible time; how evangelistic is the youth ministry in your church?

The great commission from Matthew states what I believe to be the heavenly mandate and measure of our ministry – go and make disciples.  I am increasingly convinced that this is the real eternal fruit of the work of our hands as ministers.  We will not be asked about how many flat-screen TVs we installed in our youth center, nor how many books/articles we authored and published.  We will not impress Heaven with, nor insulate from the purifying fire of judgement, our massive church babysitting children’s ministry that was this biggest in town.  Nay (KJV), we are to make disciples…teaching them to observe all things that Jesus taught.

Making disciples involves two key aspects of ministry to others – namely, evangelism and discipleship.

“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” (Romans 10:14, NLT)

“You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.” (2 Timothy 2:2, NLT)

In my dealings with ministry staff across the country the consistent theme of evangelism still conjures up an event-driven model of outreach.  What does it bring to mind when I ask the question, “how are you going to reach the unchurched/non-believing young people in your community?”  These are some of the initial thoughts student ministry leaders have when thinking through that question:

  • What was the best outreach event that I’ve ever attended?
  • How many kids were there?
  • Who were the bands?
  • What was the draw?
  • I wonder how much they spent on marketing…wait, all my budget’s gone…how did I even hear about it.
  • I really liked the speaker.  Would my middle-schoolers like the speaker?
  • How will I get my kids there?  Wait…is this for my students or for the ones that aren’t going to church?
  • I don’t know these kids…what do they like?  Who do they listen to?

And on and on those questions can go.  They’re all very valid questions that deserve serious reflection and even a focus group of unreached kids to bounce it off of.  But there’s a lot to consider when it comes to event evangelism.  Whether it’s outreach-based or an “attraction” model; it’s still a ton to wade through as you traverse the waters of modern-day proclamation evangelism event planning.

I would love to see another thought pattern emerge in the coming months and years of student ministry.  First, let’s frame the context for a new approach to engaging lost youth with hopes making of “disciple-making disciples”.

  • Our Church Kids Are In Trouble. Percentages ranging from 67%-82% of our youth are leaving the church as soon as they get the chance.  We know that there’s a chasm between our young people and God.
  • Kids are still very tender for the Gospel. In fact, children between the ages of 5-13 are 5 times more likely to come to Christ than at any other time in their lives.
  • Kids have tremendous influence on other kids. In fact, no one has the ear of a tween like another tween.

Take a moment and guess where I’m going.

A majority of our Christian students don’t know how to share the Gospel.  Isn’t that staggering?  These are Jesus-loving, born-again, “want-to-change-the-world” students that are faithful to our student gatherings that are not equipped to share the Gospel with their friends and family!

If students reach students the best, then one major aspect of our evangelistic efforts should include equipping our Christian youth to reach their friends with the Gospel.  We see this happen on a regular basis through the ministry of Dare to Be a Daniel, but we readily confess and acknowledge that we are one of many efforts, endeavouring to raise the next generation of evangelists – disciple-making disciples.

Students trained through Dare to Be a Daniel can be a catalyst for their families to participate in My Hope with Billy Graham. Through My Hope with Billy Graham, tweens and parents alike can work together with a common goal of reaching their friends with the Gospel.

As My Hope with Billy Graham approaches, we will be sharing more details of how your children, youth and young adults can also be a part of this nationwide outreach.