To "Gospelize" something is to put Jesus and his good news right smack dab in the middle of what you are doing in youth ministry. It's basically what the Apostle Paul did with the Corinthians when he told them "I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2.) It's to make Christ high and lifted up and to make his message of good news central to your meeting.
With that in mind here are seven ways to Gospelize your youth ministry meeting:
1. Take communion together. That's right, take communion together in youth group once in awhile! This ordinance given to us by Jesus himself keeps his shed blood and torn body as central to our gatherings. Many theologians believe that communion was a weekly habit with the early church and tied into their regular "love feasts" (1 Corinthians 11:20-34.) There's no better way to refocus our teenagers on the good news than to take communion together with them.
2. Share outreach stories. Storytelling has always been a part of Christian culture and there is no greater brand of this than teenagers taking the opportunity to share stories of those they are engaging with the message of Jesus. This can really set the temperature for evangelism in your youth group and, if done consistently, create a culture where evangelism is part of the expectation and excitement on a weekly basis. Of course not all of these stories should be the miraculous ones of radical teen conversions. We should also include stories of rejection or those who need more time to process through the Gospel. All of these types of stories can help to create a campfire type atmosphere where teenagers can huddle around and warm up to all that God is doing through them to reach their generation for Jesus.
3. Take your talk to the cross. The "punchline" to every youth talk should be the Gospel. Preaching on sexual purity? It only fully makes sense in the shadow of the cross! Self-image? Teenagers can only truly discover who they are if they view themselves through the lenses of the Gospel! Friends? There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, the resurrected Jesus! And on and on it goes. No matter what you are talking on, in the words of Spurgeon, take your text and "make a beeline for the cross."
4. Make a Gospel wall. Have one of the four walls of your youth room as the designated "Gospel wall." On it you can paint the GOSPEL acrostic or put up a GOSPEL banner. Maybe at the base of this wall you can put up a table filled with faith-sharing tools or a "Cause Circle" where teenagers can put the first names of friends they are seeking to reach with the good news of Jesus. However you make it, a Gospel wall is a visceral reminder of what teenagers are called to do…reach out to their peers with the hope of Jesus!
5. Give the Gospel every week. To me this is a no-brainer. When you clearly give the Gospel on a weekly basis (and some way for teenagers to respond) it lets your teenagers know that anytime they bring a friend to youth group that friend will hear the good news of Jesus. My son has been sharing Jesus with a friend for months now and part of his strategy is getting him to youth group as much as possible. Because the youth leader consistently gives the Gospel it gives my son a springboard to have continued Gospel conversations with his buddy.
6. Do a faith sharing series. At Dare 2 Share our newest faith sharing series is "SALT." It's designed around five short but powerful YouTube videos that teenagers can easily use to "salt" Gospel conversations with their friends. In this curriculum Zane Black and I train your teenagers how to use these videos to naturally bring up the good news in an effective and loving way. We also have free apps that you can have your teenagers download to help them communicate the Gospel to their peers.
7. Make intercessory prayer central. Pray weekly for the lost teenagers in your community to be reached with the good news. As 1 Timothy 2:1-4 reminds us we should have a "pray first" philosophy when it comes to youth ministry programming and these prayers should circle and cycle around reaching the lost for Jesus. Why not, as one youth leader told me he does with his youth group, spend the last few minutes of every youth group meeting praying for each other to be filled with the Holy Spirit, for the lost to be reached and for revival to break out in your teenagers' schools?
What are some other ways to Gospelize your youth ministry meetings?