"For Those Who Are Passionate About Reaching The Younger Generation"

Five Core Principles Core Principle #5: Outreach Events

Deliver the Knock-Out Punch, Part 1

Planning the Program

Dr. Barry St. Clair

Right in the middle of the "cruising zone," on a mall parking lot, they set up for a Saturday night outreach. Even before the band began to play, over 100 kids gathered around, just because they saw people unloading sound equipment.

As the band began to play, about 250 people crowded around. The vast majority of them smoking, drinking non-believers. The band from the church played very contemporary music for twenty minutes, then the leader gave a clear expression of his conversion and commitment to Jesus Christ. Many of the kids gathered knew him from his days as a leader while in high school and his involvement in a rock group. They listened intently to his powerful but non-threatening presentation.

Just before the intermission the band announced it would come back in fifteen minutes to play again. Then they told the crowd that during the break each person would have the opportunity to talk to someone about their relationship to Jesus Christ. As soon as the break began, the trained young people from the church turned to the people around them to talk about Jesus.

By the close of the evening, nine people had prayed to receive Christ. A counseling area behind the sound equipment truck had been set up, where these and others talked further.1

We can use the description of this unique outreach event to stimulate our thinking about how we put together the program for our events, whether they occur on an occasional or a regular basis. Several very important lessons will guide our overall thinking.

Center on evangelism. The clear purpose of the above event was to reach kids with the gospel of Christ, not to entertain. For that event 100 kids with a burden to reach their friends received training to mix with the crowd, build a relationship, and share the message of Christ. Even though the sharing was direct, no one was pressured to talk about Christ.

Use variety. Avoid locking into one format. Obviously the above format would not be used on a weekly basis. You will discover that with the ingredients in the next two chapters you will have an almost infinite variety of options for both weekly and one-time events. Be creative. Keep them guessing. Use the element of surprise.

Prepare properly. For a week the leaders had worked on the details of the program. Earlier in the evening 100 kids met for prayer and a thorough explanation of what would happen at the event. Everyone knew where to be and what to do. All details were tended to, such as taking proper security measures and making necessary legal arrangements.

Follow up. Each person who attended was important. All were engaged in conversation at the end with a specific question about the event. Those who did not make a decision were challenged to keep thinking and their friends were prepared to ask them further questions. Those who made a decision had a friend assigned to get with them the next day to help them get started in following Christ. Because of that, almost all of those nine students got involved in the church.

To put together the program for an outreach event like this, what do we do?

GETTING YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW

No matter what size our church, our budget, or our resources, every one can program an effective outreach event by implementing seven steps of development.

(1) Purpose. In your meeting, you can't do everything. So narrow your purpose. Later in this chapter and in chapter 8 (not on our site), we will see all of the options for a program. You will have many more than you can use in one event. If you know your specific purpose for that event, you will be able to choose the right ingredients to make your program work properly.

You can determine your purpose by considering these three questions:

? Where does this event fit into the strategy/vision/mission of our youth ministry?

? What is going on in the youth culture, particularly what is God desiring to say to the kids in our community right now?

? Where does this event fit into the calendar year? Then write out your specific purpose for this event.

(2) Target The old saying is true: "if you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time." In light of that, you need to determine who your target audience is. You may say: "Kids!" Great. What kids?

You can determine the specific answer to that by answering these questions:

? Who will be in the audience?

? Where do they stand spiritually?

? What are their needs?

? How old are they?

? Where are they developmentally?

Then write out specifically who your audience will be.

(3) Theme. "Don't cast your message to the wind, rather let the wind catch your message." In other words, don't just pick some theme out of the air. Instead focus your theme. In prayer ask the Holy Spirit to show you exactly what the kids who come will need to experience.

You can decide what the overall thrust of your theme should be by answering these questions:

? What does the Holy Spirit seem to be saying?

? What do the students who are coming need to hear? ? What will meet a specific, focused need? ? What will have spiritual authenticity? Write down what your theme will be.

(4) Goal Within the general theme, we need to ask, "What is our one goal?" That goal should target an emotion, a feeling. When that has been decided, then you will have narrowed your focus to the degree that you can enable your audience to understand, and you can help convince them to respond.

You can come to that goal by asking yourself these questions:

? What emotion/feeling do we want to target?

? What is our rationale for communicating that emotion/feeling?

? What is the one thing we want to say about that emotion/feeling? Write out your specific goal in one sentence.

(5) Ideas. Now we want to put flesh on the bones. What are the ideas you can use to communicate your goal? To come up with these ideas, rely on a team of people. Brainstorm. One person's ideas are not enough. No idea is a bad idea. Encourage creativity. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the right ideas.

You will have more ideas than you can use if you ask yourself these questions:

? What have we seen at the mail that relates to our goal?

? What have we read in kids' magazines that relates to the goal?

? What drives do kids have that relate to the goal?

? What are we seeing on TV/commercials/MTV that relates to the goal? Write down your ideas related to your theme and goal.

(6) Resources. Quality and depth come with the resources, but those resources need to be cultivated and created. People, musical talent, trained leaders, student disciples, videos, drama talent, speakers, counselors: all of these are resources that can enhance your event. In your situation you may have limited or vast resources available to you. Either way, determine what they are; then figure out ways to broaden and expand your resources. Each time you plan an outreach event you will need to call on some or all of your resources. Determine what you need for each event.

You will have a realistic assessment of your resources if you answer these questions:

? What resources do I have presently?

? What resources do I need that I don't have?

? How can I secure the resources I need, but don't have?

Write down the resources you need for this particular event.

(7) Production. Now it is time to put all of the pieces together. At this point the program director (probably that's you) or a small program task team will need to look at the big picture and bring it all together.

To do that you will want to use the Program Flow Chart in "The Outreach Event Planner" on page 197. Taking this approach forces you to plan ahead. You should be going through this process about one month before your event. An event that happens every week makes the planning process more intense.

When all the questions above are answered succinctly, you will have the outline of your program. (Use "The Outreach Planner" on page 196 to answer the questions for each of these seven steps and for an ongoing guide to plan your program.)

Going through this process, as time consuming as it is, will produce a program of excellence and quality in order that "God may open to us a door for the Word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ" (Col. 4:3).

CREATE THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT

How many times have you heard people say, "When I walked in the room I could feel something special." You want kids making the kinds of statements that were made in one outreach-oriented youth group.

"I sensed love. People came up to me that I didn't know and began to talk to me. I even saw a girl that I used to do drugs with. She came over and hugged me. She seemed really different." (A 17-year-old runaway)

"It felt good at first. Kinda felt at ease by the welcome I received and the fun music, but then things began to get serious and I felt funny. It was heavy, like God was speaking to me inside." (A 15-year-old boy who had never been in church before)

"I feel loved here, accepted, safe. Things are pretty bad around my house." (A senior abused by a parent)

"Right in the middle [of the meeting] I began to realize I didn't have Christ in my heart. I've been counting on my church membership to get me to heaven, but the more I was around the kids in the youth group I began to notice something missing in my life." (A girl who accepted Christ right after the meeting)3

I've spoken at events with elaborate facilities and all the high-tech "stuff," and the environment felt as cold as ice. On the other hand, I've spoken in some "barns" where the place was electric with excitement. What made the difference? Just like lamps, plants, and pictures in a room give it warmth, certain essential, well-placed decorations create the kind of warm atmosphere that draws students. Assuming that you have applied the earlier chapters that are so essential to creating the right atmosphere, place these five intangible, but essential, decorations to create atmosphere.

Compassion. Kids can "feel" whether they are being loved or not. And most of them don't feel they are. In an ABC News survey of thousands of students, 90 percent could not answer "Yes" to the statement "I have at least one person who I am convinced really loves me." If we love and accept them-no matter what they think, say, do or believe - the feeling of caring, openness, and friendliness will prevail.

A car cannot be towed out of the mud without someone going to it, hitching it to another vehicle, and pulling; and students cannot be led out of spiritual mud if you do not go to them, find the common link, and pull. Touching their lives with compassion provides that link.

That kind of "loving link" won't just happen. You can structure it so that every kid who shows up has a friend. Make sure that

  • Adult leaders invite kids they know from the campus or church, and then take responsibility to introduce them to others at the meeting.
  • Discipled kids bring at least two friends each. At the meeting they stick with them like glue, making sure they get introduced to other kids they may not know.
  • The program includes interaction that allows for relaxed relation- ships. Crowd-breakers, mixers, and fun songs create this relaxed feel.
  • Kids who come are prayed for so that they will sense God's Spirit.

Communication. When a student comes to a "religious" event for the first time, he probably expects to be bored, or scared that someone will handle snakes, or that someone will do something weird like hang from the chandeliers. He will have his guard up until he feels comfortable.

Therefore we need to communicate to secular kids right where they are. That takes effort. Work hard at eliminating the "churchy" things that cause non-Christians to feel uncomfortable and turned off. Add ele- ments that awaken their imagination and interest without compromising your convictions. You can do that by asking yourself these questions:

? What behavior or practices can we identify that might turn off secular students?

? What can we put in the place of the things that turn them off?

Place the plants of communication throughout the program.

Connections. You can stage phenomenal programs, but you can't compete with what Hollywood can put in their hand for $9.99. They can stick in a video for that amount or less any time and beat your most extravagant effort. The program is not your connection into that secular kid's life. Relationships are. If a student comes on the basis of an en- tertaining program, then the first time he doesn't like it he won't come back. But if he comes on the basis of a relationship, he will keep coming back because of that relationship.

To build a vast network of these connections, challenge your core kids to bring their friends.

? Give them the specific challenge to bring the kids they are praying for in their prayer power team.

? Encourage them to take these friends home afterwards and discuss the topic focused on at the event.

? When a non-Christian expresses an interest in knowing Christ, resist the temptation to lead that student to Christ. Allow the student who brought him to do that.

? Assign the follow-up responsibility for the new Christian to the student who led him to Christ.

All of these steps build a natural bridge between the campus and the church, between the secular student and fellowship in the body of Christ.

Hang the pictures of relationships all around the room of your outreach program.

Creativity. Most people don't view themselves as very creative. However, if the creative God created you, and the creative Holy Spirit lives inside of you, then, even if you don't have natural creativity, you can call on the supernatural creativity God has put inside of you. You are creative. Tap into it.

To get you started creatively use the following ideas.

Provide a time of rowdiness. Kids have mega-energy. Allow them to release it at the meeting. You can channel it into a competition time, crowd-breakers, mixers, or music.

"Salt' students. That means that you create in them a thirst to hear and respond to what will be communicated in the message later in the meeting. Students need to hear the message, but before they will listen receptively and respond, they must sense the need for what is being offered. Jesus created a desire in the Samaritan woman by expressing his own need for a drink, by asking her penetrating questions and by telling her how many husbands she had (John 4). Using films, skits, dramas, testimonies and any other creative means you can think of, you can create this thirst in students. It will happen most effectively when you address their felt needs.

Involve students. As you plan the program, plan as much student participation as possible. Put students up front. Use a student emcee or emcees so they can play off of each other in making announcements and moving the program along. Kids love to see their friends up front, and they like the "hands on" involvement when you program for their participation.

Scatter the knickknacks of your creativity all over the place.

Content. Most students either do not know or cannot articulate their real needs. But they can readily identify their felt needs - dating, sex, friends, parents, self-esteem, popularity, peer pressure, and so on. Through their felt needs you will be able to get to their real needs for faith, hope, love through Jesus Christ.

Base your content on the Bible. Students need to know that the Bible relates to their felt needs as well as to their real needs. They are fascinated when they see that the Bible relates to who they are and how they live. If we appeal to the 3 E's--emotions, entertainment, and experience-then it becomes easy to manipulate students. The church has done that to kids in the past to gain quick converts. It's so sad to see kids come so close to the truth, only to walk away without it. When they are manipulated into a decision, they can't be found three days later. Kids eventually see through it and resent it. They want you to address their problems and issues, help them see bibical solutions, and put it in their language. When you do, they will hang on every word.

Put down the rug of God's Word in your program. When you decorate the room with these "essential intangibles" you will create the kind of atmosphere that will draw kids to Christ in a way that they will not be able to explain. They will come again and again because you have created something special that makes them feel loved, accepted and safe. What a great atmosphere to meet Jesus Christ!

STRUCTURE THE MEETING

You have an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes to accomplish your goals in your outreach event. It is impossible to cram every element into each event Therefore you have to choose carefully which elements will move you toward your goal for the event. In no way can we exhaust the potential resources in this book. The following ideas are only "starters" to stir your creative juices and to provide resources.

Crowd-breakers. To break the ice, expend energy, release tension and enhance relationship building, the crowd-breaker is an excellent device. Designed for fun, the crowd-breaker can disarm fearful, tense or skeptical students quickly.

Resources:

? Getting Kids to Mix, Len Woods, Victor Books, 1825 College Avenue, Wheaton, IL 60187.

? Ideas, vols. 1-52, Youth Specialties, 1224 Greenfield Dr., El Cajon, CA 92021. 1-800-776-8008. Cited as the number one youth group resource in America, these books will have more crowd-breakers and mixers than you can ever use. Be sure to order the "Ideas Index" so you can access the information easily.

? Youth Ministry Encyclopedia, Lyman Coleman, Serendipity House, Box 1012, Littleton, CO 80160.

Games and Competition. Like crowd-breakers, games build energy and enthusiasm. Maximize the effect with competition. Compete between grades if you have only one school represented, or compete between schools if you have several represented.

Games and competition can develop a sense of team spirit, unity, and belonging for individual students. Once the teams are divided, have each of them choose a name, a color, and a cheer. Award competition points for this. If you do an outreach event on a regular basis, organize one or two competitive games over the next four to eight weeks. Announce the scores each week. At the end the winning team receives an award such as free ice cream or a scholarship to camp.

You will need to choose and create balance between two types of games: observation games and participation games. Observation games involve only a few people while everyone else watches. For example, an old standby is "The Cracker Eating Contest." Call a representative from each grade or school to the stage. Each one eats a pack of crackers, then drinks a soft drink to wash it down. The winner is the first one who can eat the crackers and whistle.

Participation games, on the other hand, involve everyone in semiathletic competition. Ample space and high ceilings are needed for most of these games. They work best in a warehouse or gym. When weather permits and it fits your goals, you can play outdoor games. An example of a participation game is "Knock Your Bag Off." Each person has a paper bag that fits over his head and a few pages of a newspaper rolled up as a "whacker." Divided into two or more teams, the players try to knock the opposing team members' bags off their heads without losing their own bag. The team that knocks all of the other team's bags off first wins.

Encourage your core kids and leadership to jump into this with great enthusiasm to draw in the reticent, "too cool" skeptics. Be careful that this does not get out of hand, especially with the guys getting too "into it" Don't emphasize athletic skill, but rather participation. You will have to work hard to find a balance doing games that will challenge the more athletically inclined while being interesting enough to attract the kids who couldn't care less about any kind of competition.

Resources.

  • The New Fun Encyclopedia, vol. 1, "Games." Revised by Bob Sessoms, Abingdon Press. 201 8th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37202. 615-749-6145.
  • Compact Encylopedia of Games, Mary Hohenstein, Bethany House, Minneapolis, MN 55438.
  • Junior High Game Nights and More Junior High Game Nights, Dan McColiam and Keith Betts, Youth Specialties, 1224 Greenfield Dr., El Cajon, CA 92021. 1-800-77"008. Wild and crazy outreach events for junior high.
  • Play It and Play It Again, Wayne Rice and Mike Yaconelli, Youth Specialties, 1224 Greenfield Dr., El Cajon, CA 92021. 1-800-776-8008.
  • Great Games for City Kids, Nelson E. Copeland, Jr., Youth Specialties, 1224 Greenfield Dr., El Cajon, CA 92021. 1-800-776-8008. Over 200 games for urban youth.
  • Adventure Games, Jeff Hopper, Steve Torrey, and Rod Yonkers,
  • Youth Specialties, 1224 Greenfield Dr., El Cajon, CA 92021. I- 800-776-8008.

Skits. Fun summarizes in one word what skits do for an outreach event. Like crowd-breakers and games, they are high energy. Even though they are for fun, if you do your research you can find skits that communicate the theme of the event.

Depending on your theme and goal, you have several options as to the kinds of skits you use-reading, scripted, no script, or ad lib. Preview the skit beforehand in order to time it and check out its content. A skit that is too long or creates an embarrassing situation can dull the sharp edge of your event. Plan carefully here.

Resources ? The Greatest Skits on Earth, vols. I and 2, Wayne Rice and Mike Yaconelli, Youth Specialties, 1224 Greenfield Dr., El Cajon, CA 92021. 1-800-776-8008. Volume I contains only fun skits. Volume 2 features skits with a message.

? Skits, vols. I and 2, Young Life, P.O. Box 520, Colorado Springs, Co. 80901.

Announcements. To publicize other activities for students you need to make announcements. Use them to inform your kids and to draw kids on the fringe into other areas of your church's youth ministry.

If they are presented haphazardly, in large numbers, and all in the same read-it-off-the-sheet style, then announcements become numbing, boring, arid quickly forgotten. Carefully-selected and properly-prepared announcements, using creativity and humor, will present fun, clear in- formation about future events.

To ensure that students do not forget the announcements, you can use some creative options.

Skits. Use a skit from one of the resources, or have students creatively write their own skits. For example, if you are having a swimming/water skiing event, design a skit in which students come into the meeting outfitted in water skis and canoes.

Puppets. Every age loves puppets. When puppets speak cleverly and clearly, students listen. Make sure to design the announcement so that the students remember the announcement, not just the puppets.

Newscasts. Create an announcement in which two students act like a news anchor team. Show slides behind them to highlight the message and provide humor. Mix spoof stories about people in your audience into the announcements.

Talk showsl/TV shows. Students design the announcements around a talk show, soap opera, or sitcom format.

Songs. Write a song about the upcoming event and have some students sing it preferably ones who cannot sing well.

Characters. Create a character who will give the same announcement several weeks in a row. He comes barging into the meeting several weeks in advance looking for the bus to camp, for instance. He has his suitcase, sleeping bag, inner tube, one ski, and bunches of clothes. He has on his body everything needed for camp. And he wants to go right now. Someone interviews him every week for the next several weeks about camp. His enthusiasm builds every week, and more students are involved with him in this as the weeks progress.

Resources.

? Use the resources from the skits section to help with announcements.

? Having your skit team make up their own skits is usually more creative, unique and fun than anything else.

? Puppets-contact the One-Way Street Puppet Co., P.O. Box 2898, Littleton, CO 80161.

Dramas. Moving from the fun to the serious, drama can introduce the theme of the meeting and provide an excellent means to "salt" the students. Often drama becomes your most powerful tool of communication.

To do drama well you will need someone with experience to lead the drama team, and kids with some degree of talent and/or experience.

If a drama is poorly performed, it will have little or no effect, and can even take away from positive communication. When you do it, do it well.

Resources.

? Ideas, especially vols. 17-20, edited by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialties, 1224 Greenfield Dr., El Cajon, CA 92021. 1-800-776-8008.

? Paul and Nicole Johnson, "God's Word Brought to Life," 254 Glenstone Circle, Brentwood, TN 37027-3917. 615-377-0093.

? Lillenas Publishing Co., P.O. Box 527, Kansas City, MO 64141.

? National Drama Service, Baptist Sunday School Board, 127 Ninth Ave. N., Nashville, TN 37234.

? One-Way Street Puppet Co., P.O. Box 2898, Littleton, CO 80161.

? Option Plays, Chap Clark, Duffy Robbins, and Mike Yaconeiii, Tension Getters, Tension Getters Two, Amazing Tension Getters, David Lynn and Mike Yaconelli, Youth Specialties, 1224 Greenfield Dr., El Cajon, CA 92021. 1-800-776-8008. These real-life problems and predicaments dramatize the issues kids face and open the door for lively discussions about them.

? Super Sketches for Youth Ministry, Debra Poling and Sharon Sherbondy, Youth Specialties, 1224 Greenfield Dr., El Cajon, CA 92021. 1-800-776-8008. From Willow Creek Community Church, these sketches illustrate the real life issues and struggles kids face.

Visual Media. Video, slides, films, and other visual media not only "salt" students for the message to come, but can pack a powerful wallop by themselves. The key here is selecting film, video, slides, sections from cartoons and movies that carefully communicate the event's theme. To maximize the use of visual media consider these approaches. Create your own slide presentation or video. Kids talented in thin area can take pictures on campus, interview students around the them( for the event, edit the slides or video, and then put some contemporary music behind it that also communicates the theme.

Kids like nothing more than seeing their faces or their friends' face! on the screen. Remind the visual media team to film a variety of students not just the Christians, the popular ones or the leaders.

Create announcements using slides or video. To create interest in upcoming events-camp, a retreat, a seminar or other activity-film the previous event. Using about ten rolls of film and a 35-millimeter camera or a video camera, take a variety of action shots of kids in both fun and serious situations. After the event, edit it and show it to the kids, then put it away to use to promote the same event next time it comes around. For these kinds of high-energy, fast-paced productions, you will need to plan ahead to include them in your budget.

Show clips from old shows or movies. To enhance communication about the theme, take a scene from a secular film, TV show, or cartoon that illustrates your theme. Clips from old TV shows like "The Andy Griffith Show" or "Leave It to Beaver" are hilarious. The possibilities here are endless. Keep the clip in the four- to seven-minute range, then bring the speaker on immediately after the clip.

Show a full-length fiIm, a video series, or multimedia show. Obviously, if you use this approach, it will take your entire program. That is fine if it communicates your theme. Make sure that the message you want to communicate is clear. Always preview the material beforehand. Often this approach lends itself to a lively discussion afterward. Be sure to have prepared the exact questions to discuss. Write them out clearly beforehand. If appropriate, give a challenge at the end of the presentation.

Music video. Armed with the latest comtemporary music videos you can do some serious damage in communicating topics and themes. Kids love these. Just make sure you don't overuse this form of communication.

Resources. Order catalogues and keep them on file for future planning. In the appendix you will find other media resources of major film companies.

  • Mars Hill Productions, 12705 S. Kirkwood, #218, Stafford, TX 77477. 1-800-580-6479. Their award-winning short and medium length films are geared for youth outreach.
  • Media International, 313 E. Broadway, Suite 202, Glendale, CA 91209. 818-242-5314.
  • Motivational Media, 148 South Victory, Burbank, CA 91502. 818- 848-1980. These multimedia presentations express bibical truth to secular audiences on subjects such as substance abuse, racial conflict, and other significant issues.
  • Camfel Productions, 15709 Arrow Highway, Suite #2, Irwindale, CA 91706. 818-960-6922. Camfel offers a variety of multimedia productions and short sports films. Special versions for large as- semblies are shown in thousands of high schools annually. Sponsor one film in a school during the day, then invite the students to an outreach event that night.
  • Paragon Productions, Campus Crusade for Christ 13232 Old Me- ridian St., Carmel, IN 46032. 317-571-2077. The purpose and scope of Paragon is similar to that of Camfel.
  • Power Surge Video Media International, 313 E. Broadway, #202, Glendale, CA 91209. 818-242-5314. Offers excellent issues-oriented youth videos.
  • Translight Media Associates, 1900 Hicks Rd., Rolling Meadows, IL 60008. 708-690-7780. Offers three- to five-minute presentations that use visual images (photography).
  • AMC-American Movie Classics, 150 Crossways Park West, Woodbury, NY 11797. 516-364-2222. Order old movies from this company. Edge TV, 1-800-366-7788. This company's videos deal with issues kids face straight on. They are designed to stimulate discussion. Fire by Night, P.O. Box 606, Colorado Springs, CO 80901-0606. 719-593-0444. Dramatic, comedy, and music videos for students. Gospel Films, P.O. Box 455, Muskegon, Ml 49443. 1-800-253-0413 or 616-773-3361. Offers a wide range of outreach films for young people.
  • lnterl'inc, 5295 Crown Drive, Franklin, TN 37064. 615-790-9080. Video and audio music tapes with Bible studies and discussion starters.
  • TWENTYONEHUNDRED Productions, 6400 Schroeder Rd., Madison, WI 53711. 608-274-9001. This ministry of lntervarsity offers innovative multimedia tools for ministry. Aimed primarily at the college/university audience, these productions stimulate discussion and help students confront issues.
  • Visual Parables of Multi-Media Celebrations, c/o Edward McNulty, Northminster Presbyterian Church, 301 Forest Ave., Dayton, OH 45405. 513-222-1171. Over 30 multimedia productions aimed at young people, plus a media newsletter and training.

Testimonies. When kids stand in front of their peers and tell about their relationship to Jesus Christ and how God is working in their lives, it's always HOT! Testimonies bring Christ from the abstract to the concrete, from principles to a personal level. Spiritual power is released at an eye to eye, peer to peer level.

In order for students to express Christ well, they need to prepare well. To help them prepare, follow these suggestions.

Watch closely. Stay tuned in to which kids receive Christ and which ones are experiencing life change. Pick out kids whose lives are changing in the same area as the theme for the event.

Select carefully. Nothing will harm the witness of the youth ministry more than putting a compromising student in front of the meeting, especially if the other students look up to him. Check out his consistency and dedication by asking the student and several of his friends how he is doing with the Lord. Put a student up front because Jesus is changing his life, not because he is a good speaker, popular or funny.

Share briefly. When you invite a student to share a testimony, and when you introduce him at the meeting, ask him to share briefly. Give him a time limit and help him prepare to remain within that time limit.

Write concisely. Using the outline and suggestions in Giving Away Your Faith, help him write out his testimony several days in advance. Go over it with him several times. Help him stay within two to three minutes.

Speak freely. Kids will come into this nervous, ill-prepared, and in- experienced. But it is their ministry and it needs to rise and fall on them. When they finish, no matter how they do, find some positive comments to make about their presentation. Help them work through how they can improve.

Use variety. So you will not become predictable, use various types of testimonies.

  • The three minute. Discussed above.
  • The one sentence. Numerous students pop up and say, "Jesus is changing me in my relationship to ... (parents, boyfriend, etc.).
  • The finish-the-phrase. Several students complete the sentence, "I know I am a Christian because..." or other sentence completions that would relate to the theme.
  • The prayer request. Students stand and say, "I need prayer for ......
  • The confession. Students say, "Help me, God, as I struggle with. . . .,,
  • The thanks. Students say, "I thank God for...."
  • The praise. Students say, "I praise God for...."
  • The small group. Preassign groups and have your discipleship group kids give a testimony about what God is doing in their lives.

Because students can identify with each other's struggles and stories, non-Christian kids will see in the testimonies of the Christians how it really is possible for them to become followers of Jesus.

Resources:

Giving Away Your Faith, Barry St. Clair, Victor Books. 1-800- 473-9456. This book devotes an entire chapter to helping students prepare their testimonies.

We'll pick up the rest of the outreach event elements as we continue in the next chapter.

ACTION POINT

Gather all of the resources listed in this chapter that you have in your library already. Decide what resources you have to have now, and figure out where you will get the money to pay for them. Decide which ones can wait and how you will budget to get them in the next 12 months.

END NOTES

1. This story was given to me by Rick Caldwell and occured as an outreach of his church.

2. The material under this heading was adapted from Bo Boshears, Student Impact, Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, Illinois. Used with permission.

3. Quotes from kids who come to Rick Caldwell's outreach events.