Youth ministries are predicted to rise up and out of their comfort zones this year and take their ministry from the "temple courts" to the "gritty streets," according to the head of a popular youth organization.
"More and more youth leaders are realizing that to truly train their students and teach them what it means to be a Christian, they need to train them to be like Christ," says Greg Stier, president and founder of Dare 2 Share Ministries.
"Jesus did not do the majority of his teaching and training in the temple courts, but in the streets, healing, serving, reaching people with the Gospel, and living what we call 'THE Cause' – to make disciples who make disciples."
The idea of unleashing the youth to serve in those "gritty streets" sounds more intangible than it actually is. For the average teenager, those gritty streets might be their public school campuses – where most teens spend an average of eight hours a day, defines Stier.
But at an age of heightened insecurities and widening secular influences, how can the Christian youth remain steadfast as they evangelize, without wavering in and out of doubt concerning their own beliefs?
"Everybody rustles and struggles through doubt. But evangelism actually helps you struggle through that," the longtime youth leader encourages. Apostle Paul reinforces this idea by urging Philemon in his letter "to be active in sharing your faith so that you may know every good thing that you have in Jesus."
"If we want to anchor our kids' faith, one of the things we have to do is get them articulating the Gospel of Christ to their friends," Stier continues, "because as Paul promises, they're going to know their faith more intimately as a result and be saturated beyond their brain, deep down into their soul."
Practically speaking, youth everywhere must begin to stretch beyond their usual niches and cliques and penetrate into different social networks without becoming like the world and begin to literally walk the talk – just as Jesus did centuries ago – "communicating relationally and relentlessly."
Stier warns teens to find the balance between the two; the kid that tends to be more relentless can turn off kids, and the kid that tends to be more relational sometimes has a hard time bringing up the Gospel. You want to have a dialogue between your friends and not a monologue, he stresses.
That's part of turning the students loose onto the gritty streets; they have to learn how to get into different groups as well as reach out to their friends, the self-described Jesus-loving, raving lunatic advises. They must begin to break stereotypes to reach out with Christ's love, making the Gospel as relevant as they can to each particular group.
Before anything, however, and most importantly, young people must first receive the full and complete Gospel message into their own lives.
"We abide in Christ, get filled with His Holy Spirit and He does the work through us – it's a radical new paradigm that's actually 2,000 years old," says Stier.
As impressionable youth begin to open up and proclaim Christ outside of the temple courts, only prayer can embolden and set ablaze their hearts to speak loud and clear. "Prayer and proclamation feed each other," the youth leader asserts. "You put them together and you've got something explosive.
"In an increasingly secular world, we have to trust in weapons of righteousness in our right hands and left. We don't depend on a program or special human tactic. No, we just pray more."
Dare 2 Share kicked off its "Un. The tour" in Denver, Colo., last November and is expected to stop in six more cities beginning next month. The tour is designed to train thousands of teens to share the Gospel.
Last year, the ministry decided to rename The Great Commission "THE Cause" to appeal to more teens as it aims to raise up "an army of youth evangelists."
"We have a sleeping giant that's ready to rise up and live 'THE Cause' if we could just unleash them; inspire, equip, and deploy," says Stier. "We could see America turned around from the inside out."
Dare 2 Share breaks the Gospel message down step by step, and also provides multiple resources that give teenagers a springboard to naturally step into spiritual conversations with their peers.
On the Web: http://www.dare2share.org/