How can we include or target teens?

If missions education is strategic for children, it may be even more strategic for youth.   While young people may not be mentally and emotionally adults, they are physically and  philosophically young adults in their most formative years. From early teen years to early 20s (and some individuals even later) young people are questioning and testing their identity, their beliefs, and their guiding principles for life.

Teens are at an ideal age to teach them the glorious truth of the gospel. Even if they may have made a profession of faith at an early age, they now possess more mature thought processes and logic to understand, appreciate, and appropriate the gospel in their lives. They’ll have a clearer grasp of their own sinfulness and need of the gospel. They will better appreciate the magnitude of the grace, mercy, love, and righteousness of God in the gospel. They can be more captivated by the life and work, the death and resurrection, the condescension and exaltation of our Lord Jesus Christ. They are at a point in their lives where they need to own, believe, and understand the great biblical doctrines of the Christian faith for themselves. It is a wonderful time of life to press home to them the gospel, in all its beauty, necessity, and exclusivity.

For example, our friend Paul Borthwick writes in his book, Six Dangerous Questions:  if biblical truth shapes our worldview, we have inescapable, compelling motivation for missions:

Who is Jesus?
Do I believe in Heaven?
Do I believe in Hell?
Does Christianity matter?
Do I believe that God wants to use my life?
Whose agenda will I live by?

Key principles for maximizing opportunities to inspire teens for missions include :

  • be interactive – design times for small group discussion, prayer, etc. regarding the implications of what is presented
  • be relational – use actual missionaries whenever possible
  • be vivid – graphic, expressive examples, artifacts, stories, pictures, video, etc. make it real to them
  • be practical – anticipate the questions: “What difference does it make now?, What impact does this have on my plans for my life?, How should this affect me?”
  • be fast-paced – there are times to slow down and be serious; but, in general, consider a pace that keeps teens engaged, active, and involved
  • be appealing – use compelling promotional materials and announcements at youth gatherings leading up to the missions event
  • be bold – Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior!  The Gospel is the only way anyone can receive salvation!  God commands His people to go and make disciples of all nations!  Don’t hold back on asking for and expecting a high level of commitment to Christ, to the claims of the Gospel, and to missions.  Young people are highly impacted by a clear call to commitment.

Create a youth track for your missions event.  You can use the same theme and personnel resources as the main conference; but gear youth sessions specifically for youth.  One of the main goals is for believing young people to consider missions as a legitimate choice on their list of options for their future.  As growing “World Christians” missions should become a priority in their life no matter which educational and vocational path they take.

Come back to this page for future additions of comments, links, and downloadable resources.
Six Dangerous Questions

 

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