Leading Evangelism Training for Teenagers and Youth Leaders

Our students have the potential to be some of the most powerful evangelists in our churches. Teenagers with feet that are swift to share the gospel will reach their homes, schools, friend groups, and communities with passion and persistence. I experienced this personally a few years ago when I led a team of students and adult leaders on a mission trip to New Orleans. 

Our team took to the streets on foot in order to share the gospel with the homeless community and to hand out hygiene packs in partnership with a local ministry. As we prepared to have our first gospel encounter, my boldness left me. There was a man living on the street ahead of us, and suddenly I wanted nothing more than to turn around and call it a day. Thankfully, my students were not so hesitant. They walked past me to politely approach the man, offered a backpack full of hygiene items, and started telling him about Jesus. I was equally convicted and encouraged by their willingness to be faithful. 

As those saved by Jesus and set apart for ministry to teenagers, we must consider how prepare ourselves, our leaders, and our students for the task of evangelism. To put The Great Commission in modern terms, God calls us to minister to the lost on a local, national, and international level. In youth ministry, this often involves local service and short-term missions trips, either domestic or international. Where you go will depend on your own ministry context. But before we launch our service efforts with students, we need to thoughtfully equip them to serve God as missionaries whether at home or far from home. Here are four steps toward helping your students learn to share the gospel with others.

Pursue God’s Heart

As our students prepare to share the gospel on their home turf or as short-term missionaries, they need to know that God desires the praise of all peoples. He wants people of all nations to worship him as God alone. Your students and even your youth leaders may not know God’s heart for the world or our blessed burden to bring the message of reconciliation to all. Before offering practical training, spend time studying what Scripture teaches about God’s heart for the nations together. I was recently part of a mission team that served and shared in the Dominican Republic. My entire team read a book on God’s heart for the nations to prepare our minds and hearts for God’s work. While we were on the trip we took time each day to discuss a chapter of our book. 

Probe the Culture

The most effective missionaries understand the people and the culture to whom they minister. So help students learn everything they can about the particular region or neighborhood in which you will serve—the socioeconomics demographics, weather, history, and more.

It may seem more difficult to learn the idiosyncrasies of a familiar locale if you happen to be serving closer to home. But remember, oftentimes we learn these nuances better through experience rather than articles and books. Some thoughtful questions can draw out what your students already know. For distanced trips you can give your team some bullet points, or have them research together. I have also had great success in exposing teenagers to the cuisine of the region we’ll visit, either by sharing a local dish in our home (that we tried our best to approximate) or by going to a nearby restaurant or grocery store offering food representative of the location to which you’ll travel. This gives your students a (pun intended) taste of the culture before they are immersed in it. 

Present Models of Evangelism 

It can be extremely helpful to give your students and leaders practical models of evangelism in order to help them share the gospel effectively. The first model of evangelism I teach my students is the art of sharing their individual testimonies. This is the easiest model in my opinion because it is one’s own story of how they came to know Jesus, making it natural for students to talk about.

We prepare by asking each student to write out his or her testimony in the following format: 1.) my life before Christ, 2.) how Christ drew me to himself, and 3.) my life since Christ saved me. Then I always encourage students to follow up their testimonies with an explanation and invitation to the gospel including human sinfulness, Christ’s substitutionary atonement and victorious resurrection, and the assurance of salvation for those who trust in him. There are countless models, but for us, this has served as the most effective one for everyone to learn because it is relatively easy to prepare and applicable for most any context.

Practice Sharing the Gospel 

There is nothing that prepares you to share the gospel like sharing the gospel. Why not pair up as group and practice presenting the gospel to one another? Practice things like sharing your testimony, leading someone to the Lord, encouraging a new believe in assurance of faith based on the gospel, and what it might feel like to have someone reject your message

For me, this kind of role playing lessens my fear of the gospel conversations I’ll have later. In these practice conversations, heaven and hell are not on the line because your partner is a pretend lost person. This step can help train your team to grow in boldness and to be more effective witnesses, whether in your surrounding neighborhoods or the surrounding nations. 

As youth ministers, we often feel inadequate for the calling set before us to engage teenagers in evangelism and to equip them for the task. But take heart if you feel this way. As you partner with God to equip your students, know that God is graciously equipping you with everything you need in Christ.

Join us for Rooted’s annual conference in Dallas, Texas October 24-26, 2024 for a walk through the Book of Daniel along with practical equipping for youth ministry.

Elliot Weston is the Associate and Student Pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church in Hartford, Alabama. He was born and raised in Hartford, and loves serving in his hometown. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Shelby. They have two children Jase  and Ellie . Elliot received his Bachelors in Ministry Studies from the Baptist College of Florida in 2018 and is currently pursuing his Master’s at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is passionate about seeing students come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior, growing in serving Him, and all things breakfast food.

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