We are now in March and the following questions begin to be asked in our ministry:
- Are we ready for our mission trip(s)?
- What is this year’s theme for camp?
- When is our deposit due again?
- What mission and evangelism opportunities will I plan?
- Then the final question, what are we going to do this summer with our student ministry?
These questions have become yearly topics for me within the ministry. I serve on staff at a Southern Baptist Church that is centered around missions and evangelism. Our church sends teams to Southeast Asia, Ecuador, Peru, Haiti, West Virginia, Philadelphia and many other locations. From our children’s ministry, up through our adult ministries take part in different missions’ trips offered throughout the year.
I share about our mission trips because our goal when it comes to all ages is to train our members to live out their faith. Evangelism training sounds weird or possibly even an old-school terminology. I hope that in this blog we don’t make evangelism a bad word, but a word where we see our students become missionaries in their everyday settings.
Now let’s talk about evangelism within student ministries. Teenagers every day in America learn chemistry, calculus, and many other classes that I cannot even pronounce. Because they can learn and reproduce this material, then we know they can replicate the training they learn through different evangelism tools.
How can we train our students in Evangelism 101?
Learn and research
Student pastors live busy lives. I serve on staff at a church full time as a student pastor. I have found that if I schedule one or two hours a week into my schedule for research, I can learn about different trends or tools, but also become a stronger student pastor. Student pastors are only as good as their study times, training, and preparation. Make time for training and research, it will help form you into a stronger pastor. Weekly, time should be allocated to plan mission trips, outreach events and tools to train students.
Make Evangelism the center of your Student Ministry
Yes, every student pastor wants to see numerical growth, but that does not mean they are numbers driven. Numerical growth could show that a ministry is healthy, but it also could show that students are doing ministry. How amazing does it feel as a student pastor when you see your students doing ministry within or outside of the church.
Well, remember how amazing that feels, because if evangelism is the center of your student ministry, then students are doing ministry. We do not do evangelism because we want exponential growth. Rather, we want to see people come to have a relationship with God. More importantly, we want them to be delivered from the pits of Hell. (That was the Southern Baptist in me).
Training students in evangelism helps students share their story about how God has rescued them. Through training your students in one model or a few different models of sharing the Gospel message allows your students to own their faith, but also to do ministry. It shows students that their belief in God should not be kept quiet or internal. Instead, they are called to be missionaries every day where they live daily.
Our student ministry here in Hillsborough, NC just took a seven-day missions trip online and to our schools. Why? Because I want to challenge our students now to own their faith, be missionaries, and serve God. The goal and hope for our ministry is that we want to see our students become active members of a local church through college and into adulthood.
Discipleship training is a two-fold point when it comes to Evangelism 101. First, begin meeting with students in small group settings and walking through Bible Studies or evangelism training can be very fruitful. There is something special about a student pastor or volunteer sitting down with a group of 3-5 students and helping them grow in their faith. I have seen fruit in spending 3-5 months training students in Bible studies in spiritual growth. After spending those 3-5 months with students, I then begin to challenge them and train them to share the Gospel message with their peers. Students then seem more comfortable about sharing their faith in they have been walking through the Bible, a study, or resource that helps them understand their faith so they can reproduce it to their friends.
Secondly, what happens after students lead someone to faith? I have students invite them to our discipleship group and then have our students begin to lead Bible studies with me walking beside them. It helps the students to share the Gospel and then help mature a new believer, the same way they have been discipled. Hear me, I am not throwing them out to the wolves, I am there walk through the process with them, but I can let the student disciple his peer. I am there for direction, theology questions, and to help both students walk through the faith journey.
Student Pastors must live out their faith
Our students should daily become challenged to live out their faith in their schools, neighborhoods, athletic teams, or jobs. Student pastors should challenge and encourage students to own their faith.
But, how can we ask students to live out their faith, if we are not living out our faith as their pastor?
How do we live out our faith as their Pastor? It begins with our attitude daily. Pastors cannot see themselves above anyone or anything. Our responsibility centers around God and pours into our family, then ministries. After dealing with our attitude, the first place to begin to live out your faith is the Bible. God’s Word daily challenges me and helps set my day into motion.
We can love our neighbors, students, and church members because our attitude and mind are centered around God. Once our attitude and mind have been focused, then we can hear God’s voice in our lives and pour into those around us. I can live out my faith because of my relationship with God. Which then allows me to share my story (testimony) with places where I visit daily like Starbucks, Chick fil a, and local schools. Lastly, plan missional opportunities for yourself throughout the year. You can serve through coaching basketball, serve at a shelter, and plan to go on mission trips.
Let me encourage you as a pastor, no matter where you start in training your students, you are moving forward because you’re training students to own their faith. I will be praying for you during this time of training.
SCOTT TALLEY has been doing youth ministry for 13 years. He serves at Ebenezer Baptist in Hillsborough, NC as the Pastor of Students. Talley has studied and written on youth ministry and received his Doctorate in Global Mobilization at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Talley seeks to help fellow youth pastors reach teenagers with the Gospel, while also engaging students to make disciples locally and internationally.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.