Coaching Students in Evangelism
Picture this: You’re given 30 students from different youth groups, a co-leader, and 2 days to prepare them for a month-long mission trip halfway around the world.
This is the scenario I face every time I serve as a Team Leader for Global Expeditions. Fortunately, Teen Mania (the umbrella ministry) does an incredible job preparing me as a team leader and partnering with us to prepare our teams as they train on their campus in East Texas.
I wanted to share a few highlights of what Teen Mania does, because I believe these are some of the best strategies for training students to understand and practice evangelism.
It starts with teaching to make sure students understand the basics of our fallen nature and Christ’s forgiveness. This is a pretty common topic, so I’m going to spend my time now elsewhere.
A simple and relevant narrative
We make sure each student knows and understands a clear and concise narrative that puts the salvation message into a memorable and clear container. This gives students something very tangible to latch onto and rehearse.
A great tool in creating that narrative is your own personal testimony. Have your students write out their testimony and include three distinct parts: the person you were before you met God, when you gave your life to Christ and how it happened, and the person you are now. Ideally, you want to review these individually with each student to help them grab a hold of their own story and use it as they share their faith.
Practice will be akward and uncomfortable, but it is incredibly important. Students must not just learn about salvation and evangelism, but become comfortable sharing them. Start by putting students into pairs and let them role play (it’s best to demonstrate the process by having one pair get in front of the group and go through it from beginning to end so everyone can see what you’re talking about).
Give them a simple scenario–such as, “you are with a good friend and religion just happened to come up”–have them choose one person to be the unsaved friend, and tell them to use the narrative they just learned. It’s probably going to take some nudging, poking, proding and bugging to get them focused and talking, but it is worth the effort. Do whatever it takes.
After they finish the first time, have the person roleplaying the unsaved friend share feedback. Then switch roles and do it again. And again. And again. Then again next week.
Next, break up into small groups and do the same exercise. Use different scenarios–be creative. Ask the group questions, like, What did the person sharing their faith do well? How could they improve? Did they seem like it was natural or they were forcing it or reading a script? Did they ask questions and try to understand the other person, or did they just “preach”? How can they make sharing their faith more conversational and natural?
I cannot emphasize enough how important this last part is. Coach your students! Walk around and listen to the conversations that are happening. Be genuinly interested in their concerns and questions. Do not be quick to judge or correct. Instead, compliment frequently and give ideas for improvement sparingly. Help your students take baby steps towards improving.
Consistant practice and coaching works and will make a huge difference in your student’s ability to share their faith. After spending a month with my team, I’ve seen even the most shy students sharing their faith fluently and leading people to the Lord. This is not a one-time effort–it may be something you do for several weeks or once a month. But if you put in the time and energy it takes, it will begin to make a significant impact in how often and how effectively your students share their faith with their peers.
I’d love to hear your feedback as you try using this strategy with your own group.
Three years ago, Nate started Called to Youth Ministry with a desire to equip and support youth pastors. It started after he noticed a trend of people with a passion for students "go it alone" for too long and otherwise burn out, without a friend or mentor to stand by them. Now the ministry hosts online training and networking groups that leaders can join from anywhere in the world. Youth ministers from California to Florida to the UK have already benefited from the coaching, community and prayer support these groups provide.
Two year ago, Nate also started an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) company with a desire to feed his family. Now he enjoys balancing the two and being able to use the business to support his ministry habit.
Nate lives with his beautiful wife, Christa, and rambunctious two-year-old son, Josiah, in Lake Geneva, WI.