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Outreach isn't Optional

29 November, 2021

Young people need Jesus and after this season of distancing and disconnection, we cannot continue to allow our outreach to be outsourced and our evangelism to be an afterthought.

It seems to me that young people in the UK & Ireland are now less likely than at any time in the past century to hear the Good News of Jesus. 

They are less likely to have a Christian friend, 

less likely to attend church, 

less likely to hear anything from the Bible and

less likely to be invited to take their next step on the Christian adventure.

For those of us committed to the vision of Disciple Making Youth Ministry, this stark reality should cause us to review our priorities.

Waiting isn’t working. We can’t make disciples of all nations if we only engage with Christians. If we are to continue to see God at work in this and future generations, connecting with unreached young people must become a priority for every church and every youth group. 

As we begin 2022 and embark on a new season of ministry, here are a few thoughts that are helping us in Exodus.

Trust the Good News

I’m inspired by the 4 friends in Mark 2, carrying their paralysed friend around the crowd and onto a roof before digging through it to help him to encounter the Messiah.

As they took the strain, avoided critical looks and potential humiliation, I imagine the mantra 'Jesus is worth it' echoing round their minds with every step taken or handful of roofing removed.

As my colleague Clodagh says 'No-one who chooses Jesus ever misses out'.

And yet, the current cultural climate causes us to doubt that “no one comes to the Father except through {him}” (John 14:6).  We can easily  buy into the narrative of 'you do you' and find ourselves believing that somehow Jesus is too small, too niche, or too limited to really offer life to the full to all.

This is a lie.

We need to return to the conviction that the gospel is good news for every young person.

Let Your Heart Grow

We cannot disciple from a distance

  • Pray expectantly - Ask God to expand your level of compassion for young people.
  • Listen intently - Listen to what they say in-between the formal programmes, Listen to how they talk about themselves. Listen to what occupies or preoccupies their minds.
  • Read the news - look at what is being said about young people - locally, nationally, internationally. 
  • Step Out - Meet young people you wouldn’t normally encounter. Take more assemblies, Give away bacon butties, walk through a local park or shopping centre.

Be Specific

Change will often start with good questions and small nudges.

  1. How easy or likely is it for a young person to engage with your ministry for the first time?
    Imagine what a 10 out of 10 would be for this and then score yourself

  2. How many new young people have we engaged with in each of the last 6 months?

  3. How long does someone have to spend around each of our clubs or activities without experiencing or being invited into the gift of life Christ offers?

Making Disciples isn’t easy. Let’s hold on in confidence to the transformation and freedom that comes through Jesus, refuse to allow outreach to be an optional add on and do what it takes to help young people encounter him.


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