Many years ago in the church a theme was heard: If you are old enough to be baptized, then you are old enough to win souls. Who better to reach one youth or young adult for the Lord than another youth or young adult? There is no higher work than this. “The work above all work,—the business above all others which should draw and engage the energies of the soul,—is the work of saving souls for whom Christ has died. Make this the main, the important work of your life”—The Youth’s Instructor, May 4, 1893.
To do this requires some fundamental principles. Here are four tips to energize the youth and young adults in your congregation into becoming that “army . . . rightly trained” who will help finish the work of the gospel and hasten Christ’s coming.
1. Give them a reason (2 Corinthians 5:14). In its most basic application, youth should want to witness for Jesus because they want their friends to experience what they themselves have experienced. Help them grow in their own relationship with God and provide opportunities for them to share their faith. Encourage them to become personally involved and develop friendships with non-believers while maintaining supportive relationships with other Christian youth who are committed to sharing God’s love.
2. Improve their identity. Former North American Division youth ministries associate director, Manny Cruz, calls it, “building their Adventist self-esteem.” Many youth don’t invite others or share their faith because they don’t feel positive about being a Seventh-day Adventist. Help them feel proud about their church by involving them in a program, or supporting something they are interested in by sponsoring or hosting an event. They will be more inclined to invite their friends and be able to point with pride and say, “Yeah, this is something my church is doing.”
3. Discover their individual spiritual gifts, interests, talents, and abilities—then use them. We need to encourage our youth and young adults to ask themselves, “How can I use my love for ____________ in a ministry?” Whether sports, art, or music, the possibilities are endless for ministry if we allow them to think outside of the box and be open to their ideas—ideas which may be a bit unconventional to some of us, but may in fact open doors to creating relationships and opportunities for youth to witness to those they might not have met otherwise.
4. Overcome personal obstacles. Being transparent is not an easy thing to do. Disclosing a relationship with Jesus Christ—something that is very deep and personal—can be extremely difficult for some. Many feel inadequate about sharing scripture or giving Bible studies. Experience is the best teacher, and some suggest that information should be provided as necessary, parallel with involvement. Youth “must be taught how to labor for the Master. They must be trained, disciplined, drilled, in the best methods of winning souls to Christ. . . . Let different branches of missionary effort be systematically laid out, in which they may take part, and let them be given instruction and help”—Gospel Workers, p. 210.
Presenting the gospel does not need to be complicated. In fact, the more simplistic and plain the better, and it is something in which everyone—young and old—can participate.
The Atlantic Union Conference Adventist Youth Ministries Department