If there’s an upside to outreach during a global pandemic it’s that teenagers are more open to talk about life, death, hope and God, than any time in recent history.
It’s pandemic evangelism. Foxhole evangelism. I’ve heard it called many things. But I’ve seen it personally over the last few weeks as I’ve talked to adults and teenagers about this pandemic and the hope only Jesus can offer. Teenagers are nervous. Their fears range from physical (“Will I get the Coronavirus?”) to relational (“Will some of my family members get it?) to financial (“Will my parents lose their jobs because of this pandemic?”) to social (“When am I going to ever be able to hang out with my friends again?) All of this is exacerbated by an endless stream of social media worst-case-scenarios that teenagers glance at every few seconds.
Many who are under shelter-in-place orders from the government are getting stir crazy, making their parents crazy in the process. Sadly, many struggling with anxiety and depression before the pandemic are having those conditions amplified by the current situation.
As scary as this is, our new reality could set the stage for the most expansive outreach to teenagers ever. Teenagers who don’t know Jesus are looking for answers. Teenagers who know Jesus are looking for something to do. Put these two realities together and you have the opportunity to mobilize your believing teenagers to reach their unbelieving classmates, teammates and friends.
Here’s how you can (safely) mobilize them to evangelize during the Coronavirus pandemic:
- Ask them to start praying for three unreached friends by name every day.
In Romans 10:1 Paul wrote, “Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.”His broken heart for the lost led to a bent knee on their behalf. The same thing happens with our teenagers.
When teens start praying for their unreached friends, they start seeing the opportunities to share Christ with them. Their prayers open their eyes to the countless opportunities they have to steer everyday conversations toward God.
It’s the same phenomenon that all of us have experienced when we purchase a car. We buy the car and then we start seeing that same make, model and color on the streets. You to see it everywhere. In the same way, when your teens pray for the lost, they see the lost as well as the opportunities they have to engage with them in a gospel conversation.
If your teenagers each identify three unreached friends they could begin praying for on a daily basis it would change their perspective. It would unleash the power of God to prepare the hearts of their unreached teens to hear and accept the gospel.
- Challenge your teens to care for their friends by asking them honest questions and providing authentic encouragement.
A simple text or DM from one teen to another could open the door to a long, meaningful conversation. Questions like, “How are you doing?”or “How can I pray for you?”can create honest, heartfelt dialogue, needed now more than ever.
These kinds of questions can break down barriers and open conversations. So many teenagers are desperately looking for someone they trust that they can open up to and share their struggles with honestly. Oftentimes that someone is another teenager.
1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” According to this verse, every believing teenager is part of a royal priesthood. And, when things go bad, teenagers look for the closest priest. When things go dark, teens look for the nearest light.
Your teenagers can become the designated priest/light for their circle of friends as they show the love of God during this pandemic. Although sometimes teens will give them a hard time for identifying as followers of Jesus, nine times out of ten when those same teens are struggling, they’ll turn to their Christian friends for help.
- Give them tools to help them navigate a gospel conversation.
I have found that one of the reasons many Christian teenagers avoid sharing the gospel is they don’t know how. This is where giving them a tool to share the Good News will help them immensely.
At Dare 2 Share we give teenagers a simple six-point outline that spells GOSPEL to navigate a spiritual conversation.
- God created us to be with Him. (Psalm 100:3)
- Our sins separate us from God. (Romans 3:23)
- Sins cannot be removed by good deeds. (Isaiah 64:6)
- Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Romans 5:8)
- Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John 3:16)
- Life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever. (John 10:28,29)
Why not have your teenagers memorize this simple little acrostic and walk through it with their friends? The word “gospel” means “good news.” Teenagers could definitely use some good news right now.
Dare 2 Share has also developed a highly interactive, free app called “Life in 6 Words.” This app is a super fun way for teenagers to share Jesus with their friends. It has been updated to share Jesus in person as well as virtually. Your teens will be able to evangelize from the safety of their own rooms during this global pandemic!
The method your teens use is not nearly as important as the message they share. You don’t go into a steak restaurant for the plate. You go for the steak. Think of the gospel as the steak. The method you use is the plate that serves the message.
- Have your teens share their outreach stories with each other.
There’s something that happens when teens share evangelistic stories with their peers. It inspires more evangelism. When a teen says, “I shared the gospel and here’s what happened….” it can help break down the fear barriers in the hearts of so many when it comes to evangelism.
Reframe “shelter-in-place” as a time of virtual outreach, or in the words of my friend, Travis Deans, “an online mission trip.”
There’s only so many games teens can play before they start twitching for something to do. Why not give them what Jesus gave us all to do? After all, there’s no greater time for teens to “go into all the world (virtually) and make disciples of all nations….”