Do you want to reach more students far from God with the gospel? Would you like more momentum in your student ministry?
God often uses student outreach events to multiply ministry momentum, attract the lost, and create space for discipleship to take place. They are an absolute game changer for the life and effectiveness of a student ministry (for more of this check out the last blog). But, HOW do we execute a student event with excellence to reach MORE students with the gospel, get the MOST momentum, and give God MORE glory?
1. Don’t Wing It!
The separation is in the preparation. The author of Proverbs says, “In all hard work there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty." Poor planning produces mediocre results. Everything we do should be done for the glory of God, which means planning, executing, and evaluating with excellence.
- Get the right people in the room to pray, brainstorm, and dream big! I would highly recommend getting some students in this meeting, in addition to the staff and the key volunteers that will be executing the event. Get some of your influential students, some of your fringe students, and even some lost students to participate in brainstorming.
- Don't try to do it all yourself. Cast clear vision, set high expectations, delegate effectively to your staff and/or volunteers, and evaluate to get better for the next one.
- Pray big. Dream big. Plan. Perspire. Repeat.
2. Equip and Empower Your Students.
At my church, we often say, “We don’t do ministry FOR students. We do ministry WITH students.” The best form of marketing is the personal invite. The students that are already attending your student ministry have influence in schools, on teams, and with other students that you will never meet. The best way to get lost students to an event is to equip and empower your students to invite their friends.
- Explain to your students WHY they should invite their friends (the gospel, Great Commission, etc.). Let them know that they are not too young to have an impact on the eternities of their friends, and empower them to be sent on mission (this is a major form of discipleship).
- Teach them practical ways to invite their friends and share some stories of students who have invited their friends who have been impacted (this could even be a whole sermon series leading up to the event).
- Give them some ammunition to make it happen (invite cards and shirts promoting the event, as well as giving them some hints about the attractional aspects of the event that their lost friends would enjoy).
3. Attract the Lost.
God draws people to Himself and salvation is of the Lord, but He doesn’t call us to just sit back and hope lost students attend our church. Why wouldn’t we do everything in our power to get lost students to a place to hear the gospel? Drawing a crowd isn’t the goal, but getting lost students to a place where they can hear the gospel IS THE GOAL.
Make the environments FUN for a lost person! What would it look like in your context for you to do whatever it takes to see students meet Jesus?
Making a fun outsider focused environment can be done on any budget or in any context. I recently went to a church that holds an annual student dodgeball tournament with a cash prize (very cheap and very effective). It’s something the community looks forward to every year and ends up being more than 50% unchurched students there.
- MAKE IT FREE!!!
- GET CREATIVE (get students in the room for the brainstorm session)- basketball tournaments, free shape-ups, the best video games, rave environments (...minus the drugs), haunted houses, rap concert, powder paint wars, etc. The aim isn’t satisfying your religious parents, but getting lost students into a place to hear about the love and grace of the God of the Universe.
4. Speak Their Language.
“Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.” -Acts 2:5-6
If everyone had spoken their own language, Pentecost wouldn’t have been effective. We must also speak the language of the people we’re trying to reach. This isn’t watering down the gospel; it’s understanding the culture and speaking into it. If you were on a mission trip in Mexico, you wouldn’t speak French. Why would you speak “Christian lingo” to a person who’s never been to church? In Acts 17:28, Paul uses an idolatrous secular poem to connect with his audience. We should follow this example.
- Try to limit insider lingo in everything you do at the big event.
- Get a communicator that understands culture and can speak the language of your students. If the person you're thinking of speaking at your event doesn't know what SnapChat is, maybe you should reconsider.
5. Preach the Gospel.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” -Romans 1:16
If you aren’t planning on preaching the gospel, don’t do the event. All of the praying, planning, equipping, empowering, and executing is absolutely pointless if the gospel isn’t preached. We should be preaching the gospel every week, but the message at a big event should be specifically gospel centered with an invitation to respond.
- Students CRAVE authenticity. Polished messages turn them off because it seems FAKE. Preach a raw, authentic message with a clear presentation of the gospel.
- This is a shameless plug- Bring someone in to speak who has the gift of evangelism who is a fresh voice with a fresh perspective. This will also give your current students a fresh view of the infinitely beautiful God of the Universe.
6. Give Them a Reason to Return.
The win of a big student outreach event isn’t that people come one time and hear a good message. The win is for them to be “added to your number.” The next blog is going to solely focus on how to practically get students back the following week.
This is not an extensive list of ways to excellently execute an effective student outreach event, but my hope is that it gets the wheels turning in your mind and gets the conversation started with your team. I pray that as you read this, God begins to give you a vision for what He is calling you to do to reach more students in your city with the gospel.