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

Five Core Principles Core Principle #5: Outreach Events

Deliver the Knock-Out Punch, Part 2

Dr. Barry St. Clair

The building had 800 kids jammed into it. The room felt electric with energy and excitement. As the guest speaker, I had only one responsibility, so I sat back and watched how the meeting unfolded. Stuart, the youth pastor, was only a year or two out of college, but I could see he knew what he was doing. Prayer had permeated the preparation. All that I described in the publicity chapter he had done. You don't have 800 kids without doing the publicity right! The program had the right mix of the ingredients discussed in the last chapter. And the purpose, theme, and goal were clear even to a casual observer. It didn't surprise me, then, that when I gave the opportunity to respond huge numbers of kids did. Leaders and core kids were stepping forward to talk to their friends.

As a speaker, it sure is fun to speak in a situation like that. As I reflected on so many of the things that Stuart had done right, I recalled all the other times before when I had been told how many kids were expected, and when I got to the meeting, that number could be cut by three-fourths. As I reveled in the moment, I thought about how many times I had had to dig myself out of a hole when I got up to speak because the music was terrible, or the video didn't work, or the meeting was ill-conceived from the beginning. As I watched the counseling, I remembered meetings where total chaos reigned because the leaders weren't prepared for the response. Catching Stuart's eye, I smiled and winked. I gave him two thumbs up. I was in a youth communicator's paradise. I was having fun!

Let's finish figuring out how to structure your event so yours can have the same quality Stuart's had.

Music. Surrounding students every day, music reaches into their emotions and communicates to them in a way distinct from all other verbal expression. Since music permeates the student culture in modern America, it seems like an obvious move to capitalize on students' natural receptivity by weaving it into our presentation of Christ.

Music is a delicate tool. If performed excellently, it can contribute a special quality to the outreach event like nothing else can. But if executed poorly, it can cripple the entire meeting. Quality is the operative word. Quality has to do with talent. The people on your music team must be able to produce musically. Quality also has to do with worship. So much of what kids get today is entertainment, even from Christian musicians. Yet kids greatest need is to learn to encounter God in worship. The musicians who can help kids, believers and seekers, do that will win the day.

Using a mix of acceptable popular secular music, contemporary Christian music, and worship choruses will help create a comfortable and familiar atmosphere for secular students, but it will also stretch them to reach out to God in worship. You may think that non-Christian kids won't sing. Not. Their involvement in singing goes back to the quality. You may need to reach an understanding with your church on this issue, so think through your stance beforehand to avoid controversy and misunderstanding. I know significant controversy exists today over music in the church. If this issue looms large for you, please read Steve Miller's book The Contemporary Christian Music Debate, available from our office, online through our website, or through Amazon.com.

Select Your Options. Since youth groups vary in their range of talent, evaluate where you are and decide which of the following approaches you will use in your situation; then put your music team together.

  • The Lead Musician. You need at least one person who can effectively lead kids in singing. He will be up front consistently and will carry a portion of the meeting. As well, he will coordinate the music each time you do an outreach event. He is the one to whom all of the other musicians are accountable. Therefore, this person must have talent and some leadership ability.
  • Instruments. If you have the talent to do so, put together a group of students who play instruments-guitars, piano, synthesizer, drums.
  • Band. Build the first two elements into a band by adding some more singers and then blending the sound of all of these together. Be careful here. Your lead musican is key in creating the sound you want. You do not want to sacrifice quality just to have a band up front. But if you have the people to pull it off, give it a shot. You might consider not only using kids, but also college students, and adult leaders. Another option is to recruit a band from another church or even another town to come and help you. You will need to work out an agreeable contract with them.
  • Soloists. Weave these people into the music and the meeting when a solo will express your theme best.
  • Tapes. If your group is small or not musically talented, you can rely on tapes and music videos. In this case have someone act as a disc jockey playing a selection of music videos and/or tapes.
  • Guest Musicians. Inviting a guest will give variety and create an air of excitement. If the musician is particularly well-known, you can create publicity to take advantage of that. You will have to decide, in light of your goal, how much music you want the guest to do-from one number to a full concert. Make sure that your guest understands that this is not about performance, but about participation. Request that the students be brought into the music.

Music Preparation. To have quality music you must prepare. Consider these issues in your preparation.

  • Equipment. Depending on what you already have, consider purchasing a good sound system with all auxiliary equipment. Buy a system that is larger than the one you presently need so you won't outgrow it too quickly. Consider its flexibility, adaptability, and transportability. Other basic equipment you will need in due time: music for the band, overhead projector, video projector, multimedia equipment.
  • Budget. According to what you want to accomplish in music, set a budget figure. In your budget, build in the cost of all of the equipment above. Note: You do not need all of this to begin. You can purchase it gradually. Some of it your kids will have, and some you can borrow.
  • Overhead copyright permission. For the sake of integrity, get per- mission from the music companies who have the copyright on the music. Simply write letters asking for permission. With that taken care of, then ask someone with a graphics program on their computer to type the overheads so they look really sharp. Type the words out in large letters so kids can read them on the overhead. Equipment is available to do all kinds of high-tech magic with things like rear projection and character generation. If you have the budget to do the high-tech stuff, contact Technical Industries for information. (See the address below.)
  • Musicians. For the musicians to communicate effectively, they must prepare musically and spiritually. Musically, hold them accountable to practice a certain number of hours each week. Have them follow the charts in "The Outreach Event Planner" on pages 199-200 in order to coordinate their musical selections with the theme of the event. Spiritually, since these students are so visible to their peers, they need to be healthy, growing Christians. To help them keep an attitude that they are not performers, but servants, allow them to lead in music only if they are in a discipleship group. You may want to consider a discipleship group for the musical team. Another important step for continued spiritual health for the group is to have an extended period of time to pray before the event. Don't wait until the last minute to do this and then allow it to get squeezed out. Make prayer a priority.

The Event. Once prepared, what does the musical team do at the event? Use these suggestions to help the musical team function effectively at the event.

  • Play musical transitions. Play the instruments between songs so the flow of the music is not interrupted. Avoid dead spots. Don't allow the musicians to talk between songs. Make these transitions as quickly as possible.
  • Involve students. Since "hands on" participation is an important value, make sure the musicians get the kids involved. They have to model this participation for the kids. If they want them to clap their hands, stomp their feet, snap their fingers or whatever, then the musical leaders need to set the pace. Then think of creative ways to involve the kids. One music team has an old guitar with no strings. The leaders invite a series of students to come up and help play. Figure out fun and creative ways to get students "into it."
  • Learn new songs. Nothing is more boring than to sing the same songs over and over every week. And nothing is more frustrating than singing a new song and then going on before it is learned. Somewhere in here is a balance. To teach a new song, prominently display the words on the screen. Announce that it is new. Take time to sing it through for them. Sing it through several times until they get the hang of it. Use it several weeks in a row until it is not new anymore
  • Worship the Lord. That is the bottom line of what we are trying to do with the music. Worship does not have to be soft and quiet to honor the Lord. Help kids worship God with their own music, even the ones who don't know Him-yet!

Resources:

? Benson Music Group, 365 Great Circle Dr., Nashville, TN 37228. 615-742-6875.

? Carport Sound, 3705 Wyatt, Texarkana, TX 75503. 903-832-4080.

? CCM Communications, 107 Kenner Ave, Nashville, TN 37205. 615-386-3011. Publishes Contemporary Christian Music Magazine.

? Integrity Music, P.O. Box 16813, Mobile, AL 36616.

? lnterl'inc, 5295 Crown Dr., Nashville, TN 37064. 615-790-9080.

? Maranatha! Music, P. 0. Box 1396, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. ? Scripture in Song, P.O. Box 525, Lewiston, NY 14092.

? Songs and Creations, P.O. Box 7, San Anselmo, CA 94979-0007. 415-457-6610.

? Word, Inc, 5221 N. O'Connor Blvd. #1000, Irving, TX 75039. 214-556-1900.

? Young Life Songbook, P.O. Box 520, Colorado Springs, CO 80901.

Message. "it is a sin to bore kids with the Gospel," said Jim Rayburn, founder of Young Life. Certainly Jesus never bored people. When He spoke, He had such power and authority that His words changed people's lives. The apostles presented the message of Christ in such clear, natural, enthusiastic and bold expressions that their words pulsated with power and life. For them Jesus Christ was always the focal point. And our messages to kids through the Holy Spirit must have the same power and life that characterized the words of Jesus and the apostles.

To express the message of Christ powerfully to students, we must communicate through two channels-verbal and nonverbal.

Nonverbal Communication. I hear students say, "I don't remember what you talked about, but when you spoke that night it changed my life." They are saying that they "feel" the message of Christ more than they understand it intellectually. Adolescents are more "feelers" than 'thinkers." Therefore, nonverbal communication of actions, attitudes, in- tensity, enthusiasm, and the quality of my life in Christ will come across more strongly than any particular words.

Positive nonverbal communication springs from five places in your life and ministry.

  • Attitudes. Since attitude communicates more than anything else when we stand in front of kids, our attitudes are crucial. What attitudes do kids catch from you-love or harshness, kindness or cruel hurnor, patience or yelling at them, joy or anger, faith or cynicism? Our goal is defined by the Apostle Paul: "The attitude you should have is the one that Jesus Christ had" (Phil. 2:5). Make it your daily prayer that the Lord would conform your attitudes to His. Then when you communicate with kids the attitudes of Christ will come out.
  • Reflection. When you know God, your kids will want to know Him. When you love God, your kids will want to love Him. When you hunger for Him, so will your kids. To deepen your passion for Him, build a special time with God into your schedule every day. Begin with 30 minutes a day for 30 days to make it a habit. As you reflect on Him, you will reflect Him when you get with kids. In fact, as this habit deepens and expands, you will find that almost all of your messages to students will come from notes, thoughts, and answered prayers from this time. As you experience God, you will desire to pass that experience on to your kids.
  • Ministry. To speak to kids at the point of their need, we must live in their world. Spending time with them every week outside the context of the church will put you in touch with their needs. As you experience life on campus first hand, you will have a feel for what topics to speak on, what points will be relevant and what illustrations will inspire them. Then when you speak, they will listen. Why? Because you are interested in them personally, and you understand life on their level.
  • Prayer. Prayer releases power when you speak. Pray for the students to whom you will speak. Praying will develop a deep compassion for them. Set aside at least one hour each week before you speak to connect the students you will speak to with the message you will deliver.
  • Anointing. Ask God to pour out a special portion of His Spirit as you speak. He will only do that when your motives and goals are for His glory only. Ask the Lord to make your messages like the Apostle Paul's when he said, "My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive word, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power" (I Cor. 2:4-5). Begin to pray for that anointing every day. When you speak in His anointing, God's Spirit will flow through you in power to students.

Verbal Communication. Lies bombard students from every angle: media, music, peers, even teachers. To overcome these lies with the Truth is our task. When we speak we want them to "know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).

Many youth leaders question their adequacy to stand before kids and proclaim the Truth. But one of your primary roles is to be a proclaimer of the Truth-to explain the Word of God to kids. Your gifts and talents may or may not lie in the area of proclaiming. YOU ARE STILL A TRUTH PROCLAIMER! Speaking is the verbal extension of living. Public speaking is a broader extension of private speaking. When you speak, Christ living in you will speak. For that reason, speaking is miraculous, supernatural. The Holy Spirit can communicate through you and call for a changed life.

Speaking is truth coming through your personality-your convictions, your walk with God, your mind, your spirit, your body. It takes hard work to learn to speak to kids effectively. I'm convinced, however, that if you can speak to kids effectively, you can speak to anybody!

To move toward powerful verbal communication, you will want to keep three simple principles in mind that will guide your speaking.

  • Simplicity. "Keep the cookies on the lower shelf where everyone can reach them" needs to be our approach. The man on the street understands only two percent of the words in the dictionary, and the educated man understands only three percent. In speaking to students remember the familiar KISS approach: "Keep it simple, stupid."
  • Authority. Your authority to speak to students comes from your walk with Christ, your understanding of the Scripture, your rapport with kids, and the release of the Holy Spirit in you. When you bring this to your speaking you will have credibility.
  • Focus. One man said, "Nothing is so dangerous as to preach about God and perfection and not to point the way which leads to perfection." Make Jesus Christ the heart and soul of every message.

This combination of verbal love and nonverbal truth will make a powerful impact on students when you speak.

Preparing the Message. When I stand before a group of students to present the good news of Jesus Christ, I feel an awesome responsibility. When you speak to them, I know you feel it too. The Apostle Paul sensed that responsibility as well when he said, "We speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts" (I Thess. 1:4). The following practical, technical steps will help you prepare to fulfill this awesome responsibility.

  • Plan ahead. In order to get the big picture on your messages, plan in advance. Put together a long-range plan. At the beginning of each year, sketch out your yearly speaking plan. Get by yourself and then with your outreach event team to pray through and fill out the "Message Plan." In working on your weekly plan, use the "Message Outline." You will find both of these in "The Outreach Event Planner" on pages 199 and 202.

Commit yourself to study. Do your homework. Just as teachers know if students do their homework, your students will know if you do yours. Spend no less than five hours preparing each message, using the standard of Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."

  • Choose the topic. Writing down the topics relevant to students can create a long list. In order to determine what topics you will speak on over the year, survey your group to discover its real and felt needs. Think through what you talk about when you have conversations and do counseling with your kids. Ask them to write down the 10 most important issues they face in their lives. Then, prayerfully, select your topics using the "Message Plan" on page 199.
  • Focus on one passage. A topical approach can make rather superficial use of the Bible unless you focus on one passage. Digging into one passage exposes your kids to the richness and depth of the Bible. As you study the passage in your quiet time, use the Bible Response Sheet in "The Outreach Event Planner" on page 204. To study the passage in preparation for your message, use the "Message Research" on page 201.

Brainstorm ideas, Put down every idea that comes to your mind as you read through the passage. View the passage from the perspective of the characters in the story or the writer. Let the ideas flow as you read the passage again and again.

Ask questions. Read the passage again asking the questions who, what, where, when, why and how. Try to understand every word, action and thought.

Check the cross references. Following these through the Scripture will give you a feel for what God is saying about these verses through the entire Bible.

Check objections Think about the questions your students will have about the topic and the passage, and answer those questions on paper.

Read the scholars This is your last step, not your first one. You will be tempted to take the easy way out and get the scholars' viewpoint first. This is like eating food that someone else has chewed! Your best insights will come from what the Lord shows you, not what He has shown someone else. And by the time you get to this point, you will have more material than you can possibly use. Check the commentaries to make sure your ideas are not off base. My two favorite commentaries are The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries and The Daily Study Bible by William Barclay, although a wide selection exists for you to choose from.

Knowing the passage thoroughly will give you confidence when you speak, and will establish credibility with the audience.

  • Select one point. To clearly state your point, write down a goal statement. Use this little tool to help you:

"Every ___________ can/should ______________________________."

For example, using the sample talk on parents in "The Outreach Event Planner' on page 205, the goal can be: "Every teenager can respond to his or her parents as Jesus did."

That one statement will determine what you include and exclude from your talk, and keep your talk on target as you prepare.

  • Use powerful illustrations. Students will remember your illustrations long after they have forgotten the points of your talk. Illustrations will make your message come alive. You can select your illustrations in this descending priority order.

Firsthand experience. The best illustrations come from personal ex- perience. For me, it was the time I got caught in the electronic door at the airport, or my basketball experience in college. What happens to you in everyday life will serve as your richest source of illustrations.

Secondhand experience,. Stories about other people you know, stories they tell you, provide your second-best source of illustrations. For example, I can tell about how my friend Tommy grew up with an alcoholic father, or how a girl in the youth group of a friend of mine was healed after a severe accident.

Book experiences. To make these work you have to pick the inspiring ones that are down on the students' level. For example, I love to tell the story from Chuck Colson's Loving God, of Telemachus, a monk who as one individual stood against the Roman Empire and through his death stopped the carnage of the gladiators forever. Told in descriptive terms, it serves as a powerful illustration about standing alone for Christ.

  • Write the message. To ensure clarity, and to facilitate the future use of this message, write it out first in outline form and then sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph. As you write, break it into three elements, using your goal statement to guide you.

Introduction. A good introduction gets you out of the blocks by arousing the interest of the students and getting the group involved from the start. Try one of these communication devices to effectively open your talk.

Ask a question. For example, "Do you think Jesus Christ ever had problems with His parents?"

Tell a personal experience. Share something funny or embarrassing that relates to your topic. For example, when I talk about peer pressure, I read the menu from "The Roadkill Grill" and then talk about how kids in the middle of the road are set up to be spiritual roadkill.

Involve kids in a demonstration. Bring kids up and get them to help you illustrate your point. For example, I love to bring up one guy who weighs 165 pounds and one who weighs about 85. The big one presses over his head the little one. Then I bring up someone over 200 pounds. The 165-pounder presses him (or tries too). My point: God is so great and mighty that you can't press Him, you can't control Him.

In the introduction make certain that you establish the point you want to focus on throughout the rest of the talk.

Body. Spend about three-fourths of your time developing the passage that illuminates your topic. These suggestions will help you make your message clear aand memorable.

Make one point clearly. Outline your message concisely. Explain the Scripture simply.

Use illustrations powerfully. Prepare thoroughly.

Often it helps students to follow if you either give a handout or prepare an overhead with your outline on it. You will find an example of that in "The Outreach Event Planner" on page 206.

Conclusion. Restate your main point and then apply it. Apply is the operative word. The kids need to walk away knowing exactly what to do as a result of what they have heard. When your conclusion is clear, then your message is pinpointed for the kids. They can walk away saying exactly what the message was about. In an outreach event I have found it very positive to end with a question, repeated several times. For example, if the message is on sex and I've talked about how far is too far, then I can pose the question: "How far is too far for you?" You can instruct your core kids to use the final question as a discussion starter with their friends to talk about Christ on the way home or during the week.

Use the Message Outline in "The Outreach Event Planner" to help you with these steps. See the Sample Message Outline in "The Outreach Event Planner" to get a feel for how to put the outline together so kids will remember your points.

  • Learn the message. Once you have the entire manuscript written, work back through it.

As you consider how the students will hear it, trim out the irrelevant material or rephrase it to relate to the way they will understand it best.

Get the outline and illustrations firmly planted in your mind. Memorize your outline.

Pray through each point, asking the Holy Spirit to anoint it and to use it powerfully.

  • Deliver the message correctly. A few basic reminders about public speaking will help you to communicate with the fewest distractions. Do these well and your speaking skills will improve dramatically.

Relax! Be yourself.

Establish eye contact. Look at individuals in the audience. Scan the room frequently, front to back, side to side.

Speak distinctly. Do a sound check beforehand to get the right am- plification level. Make sure you can be heard clearly by those in the back of the room.

Communicate enthusiasm. A high energy level and a fast pace capture and retain the audience's attention.

Speak simply. Use simple language that everyone in the audience can understand.

Commend your listeners. People don't change in an environment of criticism, only in an environment of encouragement.

Love the audience. As you let the love of Christ flow out through you, they will sense it and respond.

Take your time. Pause after certain important points to let your point sink in. Use silence, pauses, and proper timing to bear down on important points.

Listen to the members of your audience. Watch their reactions to your words. Be flexible to adjust your talk to their responses.

Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. As you speak, the Spirit will guide you to leave out a point, to include a new idea, to slow down or speed up.

  • Evaluate the message. Critiquing your own message is not easy. Set aside a brief time the next day to reflect on the message. Be honest with yourself. Get a couple of people whose opinions you respect to advise you on how to improve. Tape the message and listen to it to discover how to make it better. Try to hone in on one thing you can improve on between now and the next time you speak. Use the Message Evaluation in "The Outreach Event Planner" on page 207 to help you.

When you have completed these steps, then you are ready to stand before students in a powerful, authoritative, convicting manner and pro- claim the good news of Jesus Christ.

Resources.

? Dynamic Communicator's Workshop, 6080 West 82nd Dr., Arvada, CO 80003. 303-425-1319. Offers excellent training that improves speaking skills.

? Hot Talks, edited by Duffy Robbins, Youth Specialties, 1224 Greenfield Dr., El Cajon, CA 92021. 1-800-776-8008. This is a youth speaker's sourcebook with talks and ideas from some of the best youth speakers.

? How to Speak to Youth, Ken Davis, Group Publishing, P.O. Box 481, Loveland, CO 80539. 303-669-3836.

Invitation. Invitations to come to Jesus Christ in the New Testament are as numerous as the people invited. Sensitive to the needs of people, the inviter designed each invitation uniquely for that situation.

Looking at the invitations given in the New Testament, we see that they fall into three broad categories. People were invited to come (Matt. 11:28; 16:24; John 7:37). Others were invited to go (Matt. 19:21; John 8:11). Still others were encouraged to believe (Acts 2:37-38; 16:31).

We need to have the same sensitivity and uniqueness that the New Testament conveys when inviting students to come to Christ. No matter what approach we use, the invitation is for those without Christ to receive Him. We can't make disciples, build the body, equip the saints, or grow the church if we do not first invite people to Christ. The invitation becomes the very important knob that allows people to walk through the door to Jesus Christ. With that in mind, then, we need to extend the invitation at every outreach meeting.

Four words help us define the invitation: (1) Clarity. To ensure a long-lasting, fruit-bearing response, clarify what you are inviting your listeners to do. Usually I try to state that at the beginning of the message, somewhere in the middle, often at the end of each point, and at the end of the message. Write what you are inviting them to do in one sentence on your speaking notes.

(2) Reflection. In quietness give kids the opportunity to reflect on what they have just heard and to answer for themselves, "How does Jesus Christ relate to my life?" Then, rather than a shallow, emotion-filled response, they will make a deep, serious decision.

(3) Response. In some way students need to answer the question, "What do I need to do?" The invitation gives kids the opportunity to move out on that question.

(4) Application. The invitation should encourage students to take specific action as a result of the message. Usually that will fall into two categories: receiving Jesus, or making Jesus Lord of an area of their lives specifically addressed in the message.

With the invitation defined, we have the option of offering four different kinds of invitations, depending on the situation.

(1) Come forward. Used traditionally in crusades and rallies, this invitation has the advantage of calling kids to courageously step out in front of their peers and take a stand for Jesus Christ. Used properly it can evoke a deep, solid commitment from kids. The problem is that it has been misused and overused, and as a result lost some of its effectiveness. Rather than an everybody-who-can-spell-'God'-come-on-down invitation, you want to use this when you are giving a very narrow and specific appeal. Thinking out your exact approach ahead of time, explain to the kids exactly what you are asking them to do. You need to consider how to use it so kids will not be embarrassed, and so they will receive the proper counseling when they come.

(2) Fill out the card. At the end of the talk everybody fills out a card, including leadership, core kids, and visitors. They leave the card in their seat. The follow-up team picks up the cards and sorts through them. Students who indicate they accepted Christ, or that they want to talk about their relationship to Christ, need someone from the follow-up team to make an appointment with them. The quicker the appointment the more positive the response. The appointments can be scheduled during the outreach time explained in the chapter on preparation. This option is good only to the degree that you have trained people committed to the follow-up process. To have a stack of cards, which represent people's eternal destiny, sitting on someone's desk for several weeks doesn't cut it Use this invitation only if you have a team doing immediate follow-up.

(3) Counseling room. At the close of the meeting, people who have made a decision to follow Christ or who want to talk about it, can come to a designated room, or corner of the big room. Trained counselors are in that room to talk to students. The disadvantage to this is that peer pressure can keep kids away. The advantage is that they are taking the initiative to seek help. You may consider using this one all of the time in conjunction with one of the other options. That way the kids know they can talk to someone any time they need to.

(4) Divide and conquer. When the speaker has asked the specific question at the end of his message, then the core kids who have been trained to handle this say immediately to a friend they have brought: "And how would you answer the question he asked?" Let them talk. When the friend finishes talking, have them say, "Can I tell you how I would answer the question?" and give their response. Then the Christian student asks, "Have you ever asked Jesus Christ to control your life or are you still thinking about it?" From that point they ask, "Could I share with you briefly how I received Jesus Christ?"

In my opinion this approach has the most effectiveness because it hands evangelism back to the students. They have a personal relationship with the friends they brought and they have prayed for their friends. For this to work you have to have a strong core of kids who have a genuine burden to reach their friends for Christ.

You can use any one of these approaches or a combination of them. As you consider your approach make certain that you have planned creatively so this will come off smoothly, maximizing what the Holy Spirit is doing in these kids' lives.

Resources.

  • The Facts of Life, a booklet to explain the Gospel and lead kids to Christ. Order from Reach Out Youth Solutions, 1-800-473-9456.
  • Getting Started, a six-week follow-up tool to help new believers get established in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Order from Reach Out Youth Solutions, 1-800-473-9456.

Follow-Up. Don't let people slip through the cracks. Because of a lack of planning in this area, often the wonderful things God did in the outreach event are lost or diminished. Continual care will greatly encourage the new believer's success in the Christian life. It takes time, energy, effort, and consistent love for a new believer to become enfolded into the body of Christ. Our objective here is not just to get kids to make decisions, but to help them become disciples. The Apostle Paul places focused energy at this point when he says,

We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.? To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. (Col. 1:28-29)

With this serious business in mind, how do we do it effectively? These practical suggestions will help you implement successful follow-up and counseling.

(1) First-time visitors. Follow-up begins with each visitor who attends the outreach event. The week after they visit they should receive:

? A letter thanking them for coming.

? A Facts of Life booklet with a challenge in the letter to read it.

? A visit by a person who has a relationship with him during the outreach time. This contact gives the first-time visitor an opportunity to hear the Gospel and respond. This personal attention will communicate a sense of concern and will build a bridge to the youth group.

(2) Second-time visitors. Once a student attends your outreach event the second time, have his friends call him and invite him to the youth group meeting at your church or to an evangelistic discussion held at school. (See Taking Your Campus for Christ for material to lead these discussion groups.)

(3) New Christians. When a student responds to Christ at an outreach event, then immediate follow-up must take place. The percentage of people who follow through with Christ is much higher if each person receives immediate attention. The student who led this person to Christ should meet with him two or three times the first week and then once a week after that. If, for some reason, that student cannot meet with the new Christian, then immediately assign him to someone else. The following steps will bolster the new convert.

? Review The Facts of Life booklet in detail, explaining each point and looking up each reference. This repetition will give him a better understanding of what happened to him when he received Christ.

? Give him the Getting Started booklet and work through the first session with him so he will feel comfortable doing it. Give him two days to finish that lesson, then get with him again for session two. Go all the way through the Getting Started booklet this way.

? Give the new Christian a Bible. Even if he has one already, this is a nice gift that helps nail down the decision for him. Challenge him to begin reading the Gospel of Mark.

? Involve him in the ministry the kids have at school and in the activities at the church.

Resources:

? The Facts of Life, a booklet to explain the Gospel and lead kids to Christ. Order from Reach Out Youth Solutions, 1-800 473-9456.

? Getting Started, a six-week follow-up tool to help new believers

get established in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Order from Reach Out Youth Solutions, 1-800-473-9456.

Counseling. Kids live in incredible pain. They need to work through not only their new decision for Christ, but also the problems and struggles they are having that could keep them from going on with Christ. Having a counseling resource is essential for youth ministry today. Use the counseling room option discussed above to give kids a doorway to get help. Then train counselors in how to deal with the issues. You will want to build a counseling team of professional counselors, trained lay volunteers, and peer counselors. (See the resources below.)

In order for what we have discussed in follow-up and counseling to work, we have to train people. You knew it wouldn't happen magically! Scheduling time to do this and then having kids take the time to follow-up will present one of your biggest hurdles. But this has great value in that it teaches students how to take responsibility for their ministry. To nail down the scheduling, set up these four options.

(1) Have a counselor training seminar. Do this Saturday morning or another time if it suits your schedule better. In this clinic, teach them how to follow up. Hopefully you will have a large group who will want to do this. Cover the following issues and have them practice on each other.

? Decisions. Go over the invitations above and discuss the types of decisions that students make and how to handle each one. Help them see the importance of going over the decisions to receive Christ even if those students go to church. No person should ever assume by appearances only that a student is a Christian. Show counselors how to work through this issue by asking the person they are witnessing to "What do you think it means to be a Christian?" and "How has following Christ worked out in a practical way in your life?"

? Testimony. Teach counselors how to write down and express their personal testimony.

? Gospel. Show them how to go through The Facts of Life booklet.

? Bible. Show them how to give away the Bible as a gift, then how to help a new Christian know where to start and how to read it.

? Follow-up. Show them how to work through the Getting Started booklet. Have them work through all of the lessons. Help them work out when they will do this in their schedules. Provide the outreach time each week as a regular opportunity to get this done.

? Difficult problems. If a problem is more complex than leading a person to Christ, show counselors how to refer it to you, your adult leaders, the peer counseling team or a professional counselor.

(2) Have a "Giving Away Your Faith" discipleship group. In it teach your kids in-depth how to lovingly and boldly share Christ with their friends. Take them through Giving Away Your Faith by Barry St. Clair over a 10-week period. They will learn every aspect of how to communicate Christ in this experience.

(3) Set up a 10-session training course to train your core kids to be peer counselors. Use Peer Counseling and Advanced Peer Counseling to show them how to help their friends who are having problems.

(4) Have a weekly outreach time. Use the first 10 minutes of this time each week to teach or review something with the kids that has to do with sharing their faith, follow-up, or counseling. Make it "hands on" and let them practice it.

When a student leads one of his fellow students to Christ, follows him up, or takes responsibility to help with a problem, you will see a high degree of motivation and a dramatic increase in the growth of his own life. No more of this "Our kids are apathetic." When they see God use them they will be Fired up and their faith will deepen. Use this opportunity to its fullest potential.

Resources.

? The Facts of Life, Reach Out Youth Solutions, 1-800-473-9456. ? Getting Started, Reach Out Youth Solutions, 1-800-473-9456.

? Taking Your Campus for Christ, Reach Out Youth Solutions, 1-800-473-9456.

? Giving Away Your Faith, Reach Out Youth Solutions, 1-800-473-9456.

? Peer Counseling and Advanced Peer Counseling, Joan Sturkie and Siang-Yang Tan, Youth Specialties, 1224 Greenfield Dr., El Cajon, CA 92021. 1-800-776-8008.

? Counseling Teenagers, G. Keith Olsen, Group Books, P.O. Box 481, Loveland, CO 80539. 303-669-3836.

? RAPHA, P.O. Box 580355, Houston, TX 77258. 1-800-227-2657

or 1-800-45-RAPHA. RAPHA provides excellent Christ-centered professional counseling for teenagers.

? New Life Treatment Centers, 570 Glennere Ave., #107, Laguna Beach, CA 92651. 1-800-227-LIFE. New Life Treatment Centers also provide biblically-based professional counseling for young people.

When you have invested the time and effort to implement all of the ministries designed in these two chapters you will have one incredible outreach ministry to your community.

ACTION POINTS

1. Work through "The Outreach Event Planner" material for this chapter.

2. Schedule an outreach event.

Author

Barry St. Clair is founder and director of Reach Out Youth Solutions in Atlanta, Georgia. He speaks to thousands of high school students each year and is the author of more than 20 books, including Penetrating the Campus and Taking Your Campus for Christ. Through his leadership, thousands of churches internationally have implemented strategies of evangelism and discipleship of young people.

Recommended Resources

Although the book, The Magnet Effect (from which this chapter was taken) is currently out of print, The Magnet Effect Video, by Barry St. Clair and Bo Boshers (executive director of Student Impact at Willow Creek Community Church) is currently available through our site. Click here to order or get more information.

Copyright

Originally chapter two of The Magnet Effect, by Barry St. Clair, with Jim Burns, Paul Fleischmann, & Bo Boshers, Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois, all rights reserved.