Acts 1:8 is one of my greatest inspirations for mission – ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’
This Scripture is pivotal in my own missional journey. It’s part of the reason why I do what I do today. I’m impacted by the call of God – what Jesus was saying to those who were gathered in that place – and the significance for us today.
The definition of the word ‘witness’ means ‘to attest’. ‘Attest’ actually means to show and share. Mission is all about showing and sharing the love of God. So as a youth leader, I began to ask ‘How do we effectively engage our young people in mission?’
Our youth group, like so many others, consistently initiated typical community projects. But we wanted to see missional creativity taken to a deeper, more meaningful level in their lives. We began to use a resource that was created by Pais Northern Ireland called ‘Because You’re Loved’.
It’s a really simple tool young people can use to share their faith with others that demonstrates that we love because God loved us first. It can be used in a wide variety of contexts and is easily applicable to many situations. It opens doors for conversations with others. We have seen it transform the way that young people engage in evangelism.
Having a great resource we were passionate about, however, did not effortlessly translate into young people doing mission spontaneously. I realised that if we want young people to make mission part of their everyday lives, we must first create space for them to experience it from where they are at.
I love the mission call of Jesus. He took his disciples out then he sent them out, despite them not being what we would consider ‘fully qualified’. He first created training opportunities to show them how and then he sent them out on their own. I believe our role is to do the same.
With this in mind the question to our youth group went from, “Which mission project shall we do next?” to “How is what we are doing going to affect you at home, in your school and in your environment? We set our monthly outreach night at the beginning of every month, rather than the end. This was in order to put mission at the forefront of what we do. We didn’t want to just tick the mission box every month. We wanted to intentionally spark a desire in our young people to daily reproduce what we were doing together.
One example of what happened next is that of a 12 year old fostered boy named Bobby. During one of our mission projects, Bobby was standing with a sign that said, ‘Can I pray for you?’ When I arrived at the project, I asked him if he had had any success. Excitedly he replied, ‘Yeah, I’ve already prayed for one person. They were sick and I prayed for them to be healed’.
Then I asked him how his school day had gone and he told me how he had prayed for someone. I thought he’d confused my question with what he had just done on the street, but he replied, ‘No, no, I prayed for someone in my school today as well.’ Bobby had taken the experience of street outreach and was living it out in his own school. He had reached out to a school friend, not because a youth leader was stood next to him but because he saw there was a need.
Living Life on Mission
That is what we want to create and multiply in the lives of our young people, and ‘Because You’re Loved’ is a resource we have used to do this. In addition to receiving a National Youth Work award in 2015, it enabled us to take 1,000 young people on mission in 2016. But we know it’s not about the resource. It’s about helping young people learn to live life on mission and mobilising them to daily show and share the love of God with others.
Dan Randall is the Assistant National Director at the Pais Project.
**If you are looking to inspire evangelism in the lives of your young people, Youth for Christ is running the Evangelism Weekender on 20th-22nd October 2017. Book a group in and get two free places! We also have bursary options for those who feel the cost would be too much for some or all of your group. Find more info here. Alternatively email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0121 502 9620 for a chat with one of our resources team**