Here are some highlights and reflections on something I just read on youth evangelism. In all, I thought it was good thought provoking chapter (from the book Starting Right)

From Mark 3:14-15, McGonigal develops the three must do's of a youth ministry focussed on Evangelism:

1. The need to be disciplined in the development of personal spirituality (being with Jesus)

He says, "Everyone involved in evangelistic youth ministry must take seriously the priority of personal spirituality - of 'being with Jesus' before engaging in ministry activity." I agree wholeheartedly and pray that I might be able to continue to get better and more disciplined at this!!

2. The need to be clear about the content of the gospel and its emphasis upon adolescent ministry (preach the good news)

To illustrate this point, McGongial quotes Mark 9:36-37 (The Message) "He (Jesus) put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, 'Whoever embraces one of these children as I Do embraces me, and far more than me - God who sent me." He argues that Jesus here is showing that, "There is something divine about every encounter a youth worker has with an adolescent, because in some hidden and mysterious way, God is present. Can there be any stronger message regarding the priority of youth ministry?" Indeed, this is just one of many strong arguments for making youth ministry the number one focus and priority of a church.

Illustrating this second key point he also says, "Perhaps the content of the gospel must draw kids - who tend to seek sophistication and independence - into realising that God values and honours a commitment to childlikeness, as opposed to childishness." I found this an interesting idea... On the one hand, i've thought that youth ministry should play an important role in helping youth to grow up and become more like adults (See a previous post where i kinda talked about this a bit here), to become more mature. However, this reminded me that as Christians we are called to have that childlikeness about us.

3. The need for courageous confrontation with personal and corporate evil that threatens the well-being of adolescents (to cast out demons)

In the section, McGongial uses a couple of stories from the Gospel's about Jesus dealing with sick or demon possed children to give an insight into what doing this 'courageous confrontation of evil' looks like.

First he says that the story of the healing of Jairus' daughter (from Mark 5:21-43; Matthew 9:18-26) demonstrates the following elements essential for youth evangelism:
  • being empathic with another's crisis
  • being willing to listen
  • being patient
  • being present with those who suffer
  • being courageous to withstand culture's ridicule
  • being wise in analysing and utilising culture for ministry purposes
  • seeing adolescents in realtionship to family and community
  • never giving up on any person, no matter how far gone they seem
Secondly, he uses the story about the healing of a boy with an evil spirit (Matthew 17:14-19; Mark 9:14-21; Luke 9:37-43) and draws out the following lessons for youth evangelism:
  • There is a time and place for theological discussion and debate, and it is not in the midst of another's crisis in suffering.
  • Be patient to listen to someone's entire story of suffering.
  • Intervene in seemingly hopeless situations
  • Admit doubt.
  • Resist despair through the discipline of prayer.
  • Pray for a perspective of hope.
All in all, a good, solid, challenging read!

SOURCE: McGonigal, Terry. 'Focusing Youth Ministry through Evangelism' in Dean, K. C. Clark, C. & Rahn, D. (eds) Starting Right: Thinking theologically about youth ministry (2001) USA: Youth Specialities Academic