How Do We Mobilize Christ-Centered Laborers?

We must train students effectively to live missionally. We talk about evangelism quite a bit. Through Bible studies, discipleship groups, and talks at the weekly meeting, we aim to cultivate students’ hearts for the lost.

As we are convinced that a relationship with Jesus Christ is the only solution to the world’s brokenness, we can then encourage others to be burdened with compassion for their campus and friends.

Besides teaching students about the heart of evangelism, there are two things we must do to mobilize them to live missionally. First, equip students with training. Second, take them with us regularly to share our faith. And 9 times out of 10, this means ministry mode evangelism.

These might seem like no-brainers, but often the latter is an after-thought in our busy ministry schedules.

1)  Equip Students to Listen, Ask Good Questions, and Communicate the Gospel.

We all know this generation of university students is hard to reach. Many arrive from broken homes and are searching for anything that will give them love and life. The average student does not come from a churched background and is confused about the concept of truth. Oftentimes the conversation must begin with the mere existence of God.

In order to reach every student, we need to train ourselves and our students how to dialogue about God’s love and grace. Learning how to listen, asking reflective questions, and communicating what we believe and why are the needed skills. Only then can we move out of the paralysis of reaching a post-modern world.

Sometimes we have to start the training at square one.

  • How do we listen to others for the purpose of understanding?
  • How do we create moments when we allow people to share vulnerably about their opinions and hurts?
  • How do we ask thoughtful, reflective questions about their faith obstacles?
  • How do we share our thoughts without shutting the other person down?

Besides teaching our students to ask wonderful questions and listen well, we must also teach them how to ask for permission to transition to more of a “gospel presentation.”

Personally, I use many different transitions. Here are just a few: “It sounds like you might be interested in learning a little more about God. Could I take a minute to share with you what the Bible has to say about knowing God personally?” or “Hmmm, those are really challenging obstacles of faith and definitely worth investigating more. Supposing there might just be a God who loves you, could I share with you what He is offering you today?” or “You said you believe Jesus was a great leader and a good teacher. Could I share with you some things he had to say when he was here?”

More often than not, people answer these questions with a “yes” when they feel heard and loved.

And of course, we must train our students to communicate the actual content of the gospel. I don’t mean using Soularium, a survey or showing a video (all of which are good ways to start spiritual conversations), but I mean these points: God, man, Christ, response.

  • Are those we lead able to communicate the gospel with words and Scripture?
  • Do they know how to transition the conversation to gospel content?

Knowing God Personally booklets are as straight-forward as you get. Some people may think that KGPs are lame, but I have used them continually at one of the most liberal, post-modern places around, Berkeley, and have had great responses. In the midst of an honest and relational conversation with a student who is spiritually open, I find it’s totally possible to share the gospel, and even use a booklet.

Perspective Cards Campus CrusadeThe new Perspective cards are good too. They’re like Soularium and the KGP-lite combined. A little more brief in terms of gospel content, but a good tool for spiritual dialogue. Backstory creatively explores our deepest longings. It’s a little more verbose, and honestly I’m still learning how to navigate the tool. With these three gospel tools in our tool belts, we can have evangelistic conversations with pretty much anybody!

Training is key to help our students and staff have these types of gospel conversations.

2)  Take Students With You as You Initiate Spiritual Conversations.

The best kind of training is practice. Every good athlete and musician would certainly agree. You can only learn so much in a classroom or by reading a good book on evangelism. Students getting out there and observing staff and student leaders share their faith is key to mobilizing more Christ-centered laborers.

About a year ago, I was talking with a senior staff person about evangelism. She shared how she hadn’t communicated the gospel in over a year on campus. How can that be? If this is true of some of our senior staff, how often must this ring true for our new staff and interns? And if our staff members aren’t modeling evangelism, there’s a good chance our students aren’t doing it.

Now, this staff person had spiritual conversations, but never really got to gospel content.   What held her back in evangelism? Proper training and practice. And maybe just doing evangelism regularly on campus.

Natural mode evangelism is all the buzz these days. And I agree, if you’re talking percentages, it is more effective for long-term change. But when we move away from ongoing ministry mode evangelism in our movements, often the natural mode doesn’t really happen either.

Consequently, we stumble in mobilizing students to live missionally.

With training and modeling, ministry mode evangelism can be fruitful, meaningful (if you’re going out there to listen and love), and even fun!

For the most part, I think you’ll find that it’s the students who have experienced on-the-field training in ministry mode evangelism are actually the ones sharing their faith with friends, classmates and family.

They probably have observed a staff member or two share their faith and caught the vision for reaching the campus too! Whether that be on an evangelistic summer project or at your ministry mode sharing times on campus, these are your students and staff who are on the front lines evangelistically.

Why? They’ve got a lot of practice (and eternal perspective). When you share your faith often enough, not only do you gain confidence and skills, but your heart starts to beat for the lost too. And when your movement does a lot of evangelism – you start seeing more and more people cross over from death to life.

Without regular practice in initiating spiritual conversations and sharing the gospel, we can easily get rusty and miss those divine appointments, particularly with folks we already know. We forget how to communicate effectively with a non-Christian with grace and salt, and most of all, we lose our sense of urgency.

  • Do you have a weekly time for ministry mode evangelism that is well-attended?
  • Do you regularly take your disciples to reach non-believers in their scope on campus?
  • How do you equip your students for a lifetime on mission?
  • How are we doing as an organization in reaching this missional objective – “mobilizing Christ-centered laborers?”
  • Brian Barela

    i was just talking to a youth pastor today who came out of the Ohio State CCC movement. so many of the things he learned as a student he still applies today in leading his church.

    i would say one way to equip students for a lifetime on mission is to give them tastes of living eternally. i know for me once i had a taste of spiritual multiplication i was hooked.

    great post deb!

  • Dave

    I agree with the need to model evangelism with students through ministry mode. This has been talked about a lot over the past many months, but it is worth saying again: The benefits far outweigh the negatives as long as we are clear about what we’re going for. Building ‘ministry mode only’ ministries is a real danger, and i’ve seen the negative fruit of that, where students aren’t living alongside non-Christians other than an hour each week on the quad. On the other hand, if ministry mode is approached as an equipping tool, where we also get to see God use our steps of faith every few days, then the positive outcomes are HUGE. Great post! -Dave G.

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