04 Jul, 2017 To turn the tide help youth reach youth
It is said that more than 80% of those who come to faith do so before the age of 20. So how well is the NZ Church doing in it’s outreach to youth?
Our AllTogether teams discussions with pastors groups around NZ over the past two years revealed some significant gaps in outreaching efforts. In place after place we heard from pastors who confirmed that youth ministry attendance in their cities or towns was only half, a third, or a quarter of what it was 25 years ago. While there are some amazing things happening amongst young people in our nation like the 24-7 initiative, Youth Alpha and also through the various denominational youth networks, this sounded an alarm for us. In particular, we saw that many young people were often not being adequately empowered with the gospel to be able to it pass on themselves.
As a result two simple goals are now being proposed to NZ churches, purposed at empowering youth to reach youth. The first vision is to see outreach training happening in every youth ministry in the nation every year. This is needed because it isn’t happening in most youth ministries. And the second to see a student Christian group started again in every secondary school in the country, with a goal of representing Christ well in the school. These are goals we believe all churches could easily support.
But a goal has to be practical – so we’ve created a digital resource to support these two goals because, with a bit of training, young people really can do some amazing things.
The new Godtalk.nz resource is the result, with three categories of concise training videos. There are outreach-training videos, with studies, for youth groups. There will soon be 12 short leadership training videos, so new youth leaders can start in their role already knowing a few things about how to equip and release youth into their mission. And early next year there will be 10 short videos for students on how to start and run an effective school group. If these groups then network together in their regions, I suggest that the results could be very encouraging. An amazing precedent for this exists in Taranaki, called Fusion.
As an example, a teenage girl in Northland who heard the school groups vision a month ago arranged a Bible study at school with two friends. When they didn’t show up she sat doing some math homework with her Bible next to her, feeling disappointed. But then she felt God saying to go outside with her Bible. Doing this, two girls asked her what the book was. The end-result was that she is now doing a Bible study with 4 non-Church girls in her school. This is the kind of thing that God can do – and with increased outreach-equipping and empowering in local churches, this could be happening all over New Zealand!”
The God-talk resource can be found at www.godtalk.nz