Lately I have heard many youth workers ask the question of how to make their group more outreach-focused, and that is a great question! We all need to be outreach-focused and we should all be striving for improvement no matter where we currently are. We live in a lost and dying world and we can never reach too many people for Christ. But how do you do it? How do you shift the culture of your group? How do you become more outreach-focused?
Here are 5 tips to help make that shift:
1. Talk about it often
Being more outreach-focused can’t be something you simply want really badly and cross your fingers for, it takes intentionality. You must explain in detail to your group so they too grasp the need and desire for being outreach-focused. Explain it clearly, and talk about it often! Sometimes it takes hearing something over and over for it to sink in. We all know students need to be reminded of things frequently and so do we. Repetition is good because the concepts make their way into our lives.
Mention it in messages wherever you can fit it in and plan full messages pointing to that mission at least every other month until it sinks in and becomes a part of your group’s identity.
2. Give opportunities to practice it
Too often we talk about being outreach-focused without ever giving our students an opportunity to practice it. Ideally, students would have a deep desire to invite their friends to youth group and serve the community without having to be given a special opportunity but that rarely happens and part of teaching is allowing people to practice. Throw a big event so students have an awesome and less awkward way to invite their friends. Do a local missions project so students can serve their communities. Provide opportunities for students to practice what you have talked about and bring to life the concept of being outreach-focused.
3. Make sure the ministries walk matches its talk
Just because you say “we want to be more outreach-focused” doesn’t mean you will be. There are many wonderful mantras and mission statements displayed on walls of churches that never actually happen. Your environment must match your claims or it doesn’t matter what you claim.
Put on guest eyes
Look around your ministry and see things from the perspective of a first time visitor. Everything from the room design, to how welcoming it is when you arrive, lingo used, cliques within the group, and general atmosphere all contribute to whether or not your ministry will become outreach-focused or not. Be observant and make sure everything you are doing contributes to your goal, make sure the walk matches the talk.
4. Model it in YOUR actions and attitude
The leader is the steering wheel in any organization and you have far more influence than you know. Model being outreach-focused yourself. If you tell your students what to do but you aren’t doing it yourself, they won’t either. Your actions, attitudes, and life speak volumes to your students about what it means to be outreach-focused.
5. Address the heart of the issue
If your group is not already outreach-focused there is a reason why; figure out the reason(s) and address the issue. Most of the time there is difficult conversation that needs to happen, either with the entire group or a few individuals who are standing in the way of the goal. Find the heart of the issue and address it properly, have the difficult conversations because a very important mission is at stake.
Being outreach-focused is absolutely essential but also very difficult. The bigger the ship and the longer is has been traveling in a certain direction, the harder it is to turn. Be patient, it may take a while but it will be worth it. Follow these steps and begin to train your group to be outreach-focused. If you have more questions or would like to talk to one of our ministry coaches email us at Stokedonyouthministry@gmail.com
Todd has been in youth ministry for over a decade and has a passion for reaching lost students and training youth workers to do the same. He is the founder of Stoked On Youth Ministry, a speaker, author, and pastor. When Todd is not writing or speaking he enjoys surfing, baseball and most importantly hanging out with his awesome wife and three beautiful daughters. You can connect with Todd on Twitter @TheTodd_Jones, Instagram @Todd_Jones or for speaking inquiries visit TheToddJones.com