"A farmer went out to sow his seed..." Luke 8:5
For decades youth leaders have been like farmers. They chuck the seeds of the Gospel in youth group, during outreach meetings and at camps, retreats and mission trips. This is the way it has been since youth ministry sprung into being.
And praise God for youth leader/farmers who have faithfully sown Gospel seeds all these years. Millions have come to Christ as a result!
But there is a better way.
It's not a newer way but the ancient way. It's the way Jesus trained his disciples. And it is powerfully demonstrated in the first few verses of Luke 8, 9 and 10.
In Luke 8:1 Jesus was the primary seed chucker and the twelve watched him sow Gospel seeds from village to village, "After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him...."
In Luke 9:1,2 the disciples were the primary seed chuckers and Jesus watched them sow, "When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick."
In Luke 10:1 seventy two other disciples were the primary seed chuckers and Jesus and the twelve apostles were, most likely, watching, coaching and encouraging them as they did, "After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by twoahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go."
It started in Luke 8 with Jesus doing the primary work of evangelism. Soon the primary outreach work had transferred to his closest disciples. And soon after that his followers were training other disciples.
Jesus had moved from just chucking seeds to training farmers (the 12) and soon he was building greenhouses (building a ministry model that multiplied both seeds and seed chuckers.)
Let me ask a simple youth ministry question, are you stuck as the primary Gospel seed chucker in your youth ministry? If your primary outreach strategy depends on you giving the Gospel during outreach meetings then you are stuck in Luke 8:1.
Don't get me wrong, it's good to give the Gospel (and not just at outreach meetings but in other meetings as well!) After all, Jesus didn't stop giving the Gospel after Luke 8. He still preached the Good News, but his primary strategy moved from him (chucking seeds) to them (disciples chucking seeds) to it (building a greenhouse ministry that naturally multiplied seeds and seed chuckers, i.e. the 72.)
How can you make the transition from being the only seed chucker to being a farm club for farmers and a greenhouse builder? Here are 3 keys:
1. Make sure you are modeling how to live out evangelism in front of your teenagers.
Jesus lived on mission and his disciples saw it. From engaging the woman at the well (John 4:4-42) to reaching out to taxcollectors (Luke 19:1-10) to Gospelizing top religious leaders (John 3:1-21), Jesus was always ready to engage in a Gospel conversation. And his disciples watched him do this again and again and again.
Are you exemplifying what it means to live a life on mission for Jesus? Are you living out a lifestyle of evangelism that your teenagers see and can model? Like Jesus said in Luke 6:40, "No student is above their teacher but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher."
For help in sharing your faith check out this 4 minute video we put together at Dare 2 Share to give you a crash course in effective evangelism:
2. Inspire, equip and unleash your teenagers to share the Gospel.
Just like Jesus sent his "youth group" on mission, we must do the same. We must inspire them to share the Good News of Jesus. Then we need to equip them how to share it in a clear and effective way. And, finally, we must unleash them to do it!
This is where many seed chucking classes often fail. If we teach them how to share the Gospel but never actually take them out to chuck seeds, they never really learn. Another way to put it is inspiration plus information minus activation equals frustration.
A super simple way to get your teenagers activated in evangelism is Dare 2 Share Live coming up on September 23rd. On this powerful day of outreach we will inspire teenagers to chuck Gospel seeds, train them how and then unleash them to do some actual sowing! Find the closest host site near you and bring your teenagers to get activated as seed chuckers along with tens of thousands of other teenagers across the nation!
3. Turn your youth ministry into a greenhouse where the multiplication of disciples occurs organically.
In 2013 Dare 2 Share commissioned a research project. In it we discovered 7 common values in every youth ministry that was seeing 25% new conversion growth on an annual basis. This means that these youth ministries were growing as a result of new disciples being made and multiplied. In a sense they, like Jesus in Luke 8,9 and10, were going from 1 to 12 to 72.
I cross checked these values with the book of Acts and was blown away by how often these seven values appeared. These values became the basis of my book Gospelize Your Youth Ministry and they are the centerpiece of all of our greenhouse building strategies.
If you want to turn your youth room into a greenhouse for making and multiplying disciples get the book and go to gospeladvancing.com to take a diagnostic to see how strong your youth ministry is in each of these values. There are also free training videos you can watch on this site that will help you and your team build a great greenhouse!
It's always time to chuck gospel seeds. But it's also time to raise up young farmers and build effective greenhouses. Let's get at it! And let us help you!