4 Ways to create a culture of evangelism for students

By Shane Pruitt

Thirty years from now, when people ask what the pandemic was like and what we did, what will we say? What will we say about the students we lead? If we say we binge-watched our way through a year’s worth of Netflix and Hulu series, we will have completely missed a huge opportunity.

And yet, as we lead the next generation of God’s people, it can feel like we’re competing against the endless hours of streaming services when an invitation to participate in the greatest movement the world has ever seen is passing us by. Cultivating a culture of evangelism among this generation—in a pandemic no less—can feel daunting, if not impossible.

But we can do it. We must do it. We have to empower our students and mobilize them to go into the places that are closed off to us but wide open to them. Here are four truths to remember as we cultivate a culture of evangelism during the pandemic

1. Create the standard.

Let evangelism be an expectation in your student ministry. Our students will never do what we’re not doing ourselves. The question we’re challenged with as leaders is whether or not we are sharing the gospel outside the church building. We create the standard.

In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul writes, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” As we’re pushing our students to live on mission and be evangelists, the question is: are we doing that? When was the last time we shared the gospel outside of a pulpit?

On a regular basis, share stories about how you’ve shared your faith with the person at Starbucks or in the grocery store or with the person working on your car. The only way we’ll have these stories is if we are sharing the gospel itself. Even if these testimonies don’t end in someone coming to faith, share them. It’s not our job to save anyone, but it is our job to point people to the One who can—Jesus.

2. Celebrate what you want to replicate.

It’s an old leadership adage that has proven true: what’s celebrated is repeated. I’ve seen this to be true in my own ministry. Whatever you celebrate the most is what you’re either intentionally or unintentionally discipling your students to believe is most important.

What do you tend to celebrate? For many of us, it’s “nickels and noses”— how many people are giving and how many people are at our events. In some ways, the pandemic has stripped this measure of success and has given us a great opportunity to truly celebrate things that really matter. If we’re saying that evangelism, discipleship and seeing new believers is most important, then that’s what we should celebrate the most.

If one of your students shares the gospel, celebrate it. Use it in your sermon illustrations, use video testimonies, make it a big deal. And celebrate the right success. Success is not end results because end results are up to the Lord. Success is in obedience.

3. Coach them in the gospel.

Don’t assume your students know how to share the whole gospel just because they’ve been coming to church. Many people know how to share pieces of the gospel, but they struggle to share the whole gospel.

As leaders, we’re called to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12). It’s our job to coach and train them how to share the whole gospel. How do we do that? Pick an evangelism tool and train them to use it. The best evangelism tool is whichever one shares the whole gospel and whichever one you’ll actually use.

And share the gospel each time you preach. When you do this, not only are you calling out those who aren’t saved to be saved, but those who are saved are also hearing how to share the gospel.

Visit WhosYourOne.com for helpful evangelism tools and resources.

4. Call out missionaries.

If you’re a believer, and you have the Holy Spirit inside you, you are a minister of the gospel. You are a missionary.

This includes your students; they are missionaries, and they need help realizing it. If they have the Holy Spirit, they are the church right now. They have a calling on their life now.

How can we help students understand what their ministry and mission field is? The ground between their feet at any given point in the day is their mission field. We need to help them understand their school is for more than making good grades. It’s their mission field. Their job is more than a place to make money. It’s their mission field. The same is true for their family, their neighborhood and their social media platforms.

Our students are also digital missionaries. Social media is a tool that’s pandemic proof. Help them see their social media as more than an account to post pictures of themselves. Help them see it as an opportunity to share truth through Scripture, to invite people to church or share the links to their student ministries.

People are looking for hope. They are looking for God—even if they don’t realize it. Thirty years from now, let’s be able to say that we introduced people to the good and beautiful God Who created them and that we inspired our students to do the same.

Visit WhosYourOne.com for helpful evangelism tools and resources.

Published March 12, 2021

Shane Pruitt

Shane Pruitt serves as National Next Gen Director for the North American Mission Board.