The generation of teenagers and young adults we are trying to reach today is the most rapidly changing generation yet. It’s also the most tech-savvy generation to date, presenting to us a population that has never known a world without cell phones or digital media.
Ministry leaders are finding it hard to keep up with such a generation, let alone minister to them effectively. How can we relate with these students? What do they care to learn about?
When 60 teenagers were asked what they most wanted to learn about, the majority answer was surprising. Nearly all of them want to learn how to share the gospel and talk to their unbelieving friends about Jesus.
Yes, that’s right – those middle and high schoolers that we assume are disengaged actually desire to talk about Jesus. But, how do we do that? How do we properly and effectively train students so they are well equipped for evangelism?
Believe it or not, research studies have found that this generation prefers face to face interaction. They desire things that are real, not necessarily what is cool. This means that they would prefer a genuine conversation with someone, rather than hanging out and doing something considered cool.
With this in mind, what if we completely reworked the way we train students to do evangelism? What if we stopped giving them an overabundance of phrases and tools, and instead equipped them to engage in actual, non-rehearsed conversations? After all, the peers they’ll be reaching prefer genuine, face-to-face conversations.
What if we completely reworked the way we train students to do evangelism?
You may be thinking, “Well that sounds great, but how do I actually do that?”
Start with the idea of being genuine. For someone to be genuine, they must be personal. As this applies to a gospel conversation, that means sharing why this matters to you. Share your story and what difference God has made in your life.
If you are trying to convince anyone of the reality of Christ and His gospel, they first need to know why it matters. This can be communicated by personal testimony. Teach your teenagers how to share their story. Train them in sharing their life before Christ, how they came to know Him and how He has changed their lives.
The most important piece of a gospel conversation is – you guessed it – the gospel. Our students need to know what the gospel is and how to share it. The gospel is the story of Jesus Christ and what He means for us. It is the message of salvation offered through God in the flesh, who came and died for us, and rose from the dead three days later.
Perhaps the most effective tool I have personally used and would recommend in training students to share the gospel is the “3 Circles” resource. It is conversational and provides a framework for students to make the conversation their own, rather than memorizing an awkward script to read. Find a tool that is biblically faithful and works best for your students, and run with it!
Training students in evangelism looks different in every context. Regardless, we must train and prepare them to be genuine in their conversations, and to have these interactions face to face.
Do you want your students to grow in how they interact with nonbelievers? Take the time to invest in them. Learn their conversational styles, their strengths, their weaknesses and their contexts. Help them find a method that best suits them. Soon after, you’ll get the pleasure of watching God’s kingdom advance through the hands of the students He has entrusted to you.