BUILDING OUTREACH CULTURE
I wanted to pause and share with a small but important step in building a culture of outreach with your students and leaders. It may seem insignificant but over time it sets a tone of expectation for your youth and leaders.
Before I leverage the small step I need to post up some assumptions.
- You’re already on mission building relationships with core kids and connecting with their peers.
- You’ve created an experience where you have designed conversations for the furthest out kid.
- You’re current group is predominately populated with the already convinced and you want that to change.
As you prepare for your talks internally change the intent and expectations. Assume that you will have students coming who have never darkened the door of your church. Let it change the words and the stories you integrate that deliver the content to the listener. Once you have built the talk around the idea that non-believing students will hear it, pray that this indeed will happen. Regardless of your groups track record, and this is the small step, address in your introduction the types of students who “should” be in the room.
Well, good evening. How’s everybody doing? I want to share with you that I’m so glad you’re here tonight. In a room this size there are probably some of you here who have grown up in church for most of your life. You’ve heard a lot about the Bible and this is a place where you expect to hear about God and how you can chase after him in your life. I’m so glad you’re here and I want to challenge you to focus on one thing that will help you this week as you chase after Jesus.
In a room this size there may also be some of you here tonight and you’re not really sure what you think about God. You may think he’s not real or really out there for you or you may just have some questions that need to be answered before you can start believing that he might be a potential part of your life. Whether you’re open to it or you just came here to hang out with friends I just want you to know that that’s completely fine with us. My challenge to you is to just keep asking questions. Regardless of whether or not you believe in God most of what I share with you tonight will just make good sense. Take what you like and leave what you don’t. No worries. We’re not here to make you believe what you’re not ready for. You decide if it makes sense and if you want more. Keep coming and take your time.
Why should I do this?
This short one minute precursor to your talk helps to lower walls. It tells the non-believing student that you’re going to talk about God but that they are safe to assume a pace in absorption that their comfortable with. It validates their position and politely encourages them to just be open minded.
It raises the bar and puts an elephant in the room. When you first start to do this it may be that there are zero kids in the room that have never been there before. It may be just your core kids or the already convinced. You are revealing to them an expectation that the environment is wanting to talk to non-believing kids. It also tells them that you’re not going to punk their friends if and when they do bring them. They will hear you talk to their potential friends they might bring with respect and intentionality that they can trust. It may also prompt them to imagine what it would look like if their friends were there.
As they start to bring their friends the precursor delivers on their promise to their friend that group is fun and non-threatening. You are earning credits and setting them up for potential conversations they can have with their friends in the margins before and after group.
Personally, I save conversations about missions for small groups and student leadership development where I can be more intentional. At front door gatherings you should refrain from begging kids to bring their friends or chastise them for not doing so. Just create the environment with their friends in mind and build the culture by using the precursor as a vision casting moment. You are saying what you’re after each and every week that you meet without asking anyone to do it.
I would also tell your core kids in small group that you’re going to do this at every talk because you care about their friends. Lift this vision up but tell them to be on mission in their personal life. Set them free to know that if they can’t get their friends to come to an event it’s okay. Assure them that if their friend does attend though that the conversation is going to be in love and out of respect for where their friend is at. Give them ideas or alternatives and let them know that you’re creating an environment for their friends and it will always be a safe place for them to bring them.
It takes time but it sets the tone. It’s a small step but an important one.
I hope this help. Take what you like or don’t. Thanks for loving kids well.