When you seek to build a youth ministry that advances the Gospel deeply into the heart of your community (and in the process, deeply into the heart of your teenagers) you will face roadblocks. Anticipating these obstacles will enable you to be better prepared to overcome them in the power of Christ.
Here are 5 potential roadblocks you may face:
When it comes to sharing the gospel fear is one of the biggest obstacle we face. Why? Because sharing the gospel can be a scary prospect! I've been sharing the gospel for almost 40 years and I still get nervous before I bring it up to someone. So, if "the Dare 2 Share guy" gets nervous it shouldn't surprise you if you or your teenagers do as well.
How do we overcome our fears when it comes to sharing the gospel and help our teenagers overcome them as well? We pray! That's how the Apostle Paul pinned down his knee-knocking nervousness, "Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel..." Ephesians 6:19
2. Lack of know how
One reason more teenagers (and youth leaders for that matter) don't share their faith more often is that they don't exactly know how. Unfortunately, evangelism training courses are not usually well attended when and if they are offered as an elective in youth groups or churches. But effective evangelism training is necessary if teenagers are going to know how to bring it up naturally, explain it clearly and follow up naturally.
That's why I believe evangelism training should not be an elective. I am convinced every teenager (and adult) needs to be equipped how to share the good news in their circle of influence. If you are struggling to find effective faith-sharing curriculum check out the Dare 2 Share store. Teenagers can also download our free "Dare 2 Share" evangelism training app onto their smart phones.
3. Teen apathy
This is a tough one. Sometimes it's hard to get teenagers motivated to share their faith because they just aren't motivated to do it. How do you combat this? A combination of prayer, inspiration and focus!
Start praying for your teenagers to be more motivated in the area of evangelism. Ask God to move their hearts to action! Combine this with inspiring talks on the urgency of evangelism. Remind them about what's at stake for their friends who don't know Jesus (both now and for eternity.) Seek to break their hearts with what breaks the heart of God. And, finally, focus on the teenagers who show even a glimmer of interest in faith sharing. Like a little ember that gets lit with a flint in a small pile of kindling, gently blow on it until it flares up and starts to consume the kindling (aka "other teens") around it. It only takes a spark to get a....(you know the rest of the song.)
4. Church alignment
When evangelism becomes a focus in the youth room (full of teenagers) sometimes problems will arise in the back room (full of elders.) This may appear in the form of a pull-aside hallway conversation from the pastor expressing concerns about the "lack of discipleship" going on in the youth group or the "there is too much focus on evangelism" talk.
That's why a "Deep and Wide" approach to youth ministry is so important. We must take our teenagers deep into their relationship with God (through teaching God's Word and practically applying it to their lives) as we nudge our teenagers wider into evangelistic outreach.
Sometimes even then it becomes a problem because kids will complain that "youth group just isn't fun anymore." But youth group is at its most fun when teens are coming to Christ and growing in Christ. Throw in a game of Dodgeball, pepperoni pizza and a few gallons of Pepsi and you got yourself a real party.
Working for church alignment takes wisdom, humility and gentle persuasion. Win those disgruntled elders over. If you can they will always have your back.
5. Spiritual warfare
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12
Underneath all of these obstacles may lurk a more sinister force...Satan and his army of fallen angels. These former servants of the true King are mighty in strength and strategic in their attacks. They have seen our kind for thousands of years and know which buttons to push and levers to pull to discourage, deceive and distract us.
How do we fight back? Ephesians 6:10,11 gives us the answer, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes."
Consistently ask God for strength to stand against the Evil One and his schemes. Your heavenly Father will give you the wisdom and power to overcome any obstacles Satan may throw your way as you seek to build a youth ministry that advances the Gospel.
Viva LA Cause!