I miss the old school play ground type merry-go-rounds. You know the kind I mean? The kind that you put your kids on and then grab, grunt and push as you lean into one of the outer bars of the heavy iron circle to get it spinning. It takes a few sweaty revolutions powered by desperate daddy running but once it gets spinning all you have to do is tap it to keep it going fast.
You know it's spinning at high velocity when you are a little bit tentative about even tapping the merry-go-round for fear of losing a hand. You also know its going fast enough when you see your son hanging on for dear life, screaming for you to stop, and all you hear is a maniacal laugh...coming from your mouth.
Evangelism is like the merry-go-round of youth ministry. You have to grab ahold of it and start pushing.
It's hard at first because it moves really slow. Your teens may not be impressed with your efforts as they watch you grunt, groan and grind to make evangelism a youth group priority. But once it gets spinning and keeps spinning they will have to hold on for dear life because the velocity changes everything.
There's nothing like new believers being added to your youth group that accelerates excitement mixed with a hint of danger (see the book of Acts.) The kingdom of God advances and the spiritual growth of your teenagers accelerates.
So if evangelism does all this then why is it not a bigger priority in more youth ministries? Because pushing a merry-go-round to velocity on a playground takes a few moments but pushing evangelism to velocity in a youth ministry setting may take months!
Too many youth leaders stop pushing too soon. They fail to get momentum because they stop too early. They get discouraged by the pain of trying to overcome the gravity of guilt or the weight of other programming priorities so they quit pushing evangelism altogether. As a result the merry-go-round slows to a stop.
Others get it spinning fast. They'll do the curriculum, come to the conference or go on the mission trip. By the time they're done their kids are hanging on for dear life. The merry-go-round is whirling.
But then, for some strange reason, they refuse, forget or don't know how to keep tapping the merry-go-round throughout the year. They go back to their typical programs and typical lessons and they soon start getting typical results. They'll wait for next year's big evangelistic event to try to get it spinning again.
The youth leaders that I've met who have had true evangelistic success in their youth ministries participate in "spinning" events throughout the year. But they a step further. They tap the merry-go-round every week. They pray for their students consistently to be bold in living and sharing their faith. They may have a weekly evangelistic story telling time in youth group or weave the call to evangelize into their weekly talks...but they do something to tap the merry-go-round of evangelism.
I lead a ministry called Dare 2 Share. We train teens to share their faith. Our weekend conferences are high-velocity spin the merry-go-round events. When teens leave a Dare 2 Share they are hanging on for dear life and screaming for more. But it takes youth leaders who are willing to tap the merry-go-round throughout the year if the kingdom of God in their communities is really going to really spin out of control (in all the right ways!)
Yes, I'd love to have you bring your teens to Dare 2 Share conference this Spring or for you to attend one of our Maximum Velocity free youth leader training events this Fall. But make sure you come realizing that it's going to take more than a big push from Dare 2 Share to keep your teens sharing the good news of Jesus with their friends. It's gonna take you tapping the merry-go-round week in and week out throughout the year.
When you do your teens are going to be holding on for dear life...and you might just hear a maniacal laugh.