Everyone loves a good story, right? We all probably have memories of hearing a story that has stuck with us for years. I’m 28 years old and still remember a story my 5th-grade teacher told me about some hobos on train tracks. Most people prefer to learn through storytelling. Just open up that Bible on your desk and flip to one of the gospels. There we find one of the best storytellers ever: Jesus. Teaching through stories was what Jesus did.
Students are no different. They learn through stories. What would happen if you used stories as an evangelism tool in your ministry? The students who fill the chairs in your student room every week have stories to tell. Teaching them to tell their stories and giving them the chance to share can help you reach students that you have never had luck with before. A couple of things come to mind when I think of using storytelling as an outreach in student ministry.
Help them craft their story
Most teenagers have not given much thought to the story of their lives. Of course, they lived it, but how many of them have really thought about how God plays into their stories? You should take the time to sit down with a student and help them write out their testimony/story. Some simple questions to ask in this process are:
- What kind of person were you before Christ?
- What are some things you struggled with before Christ?
- When did you give your life to Jesus?
- Where in your life have you seen God show up?
These, and a host of other questions will get students thinking about their lives from a perspective they are not used to. Once you learn those things about the student, you can start encouraging them to write out their stories.
Let them share
It is impossible for a student’s story to change someone’s life if they do not share it. Sometimes we have to put our pride and our regular programming aside for the sake of the gospel. It could be as simple as a 5-minute spot in your service, or the whole message portion of your programming. Only you know how it will fit in, but the story of a student is too important to neglect. For us, it looks like the first Wednesday of every other month. We deem those nights “Student-Led Night”. On those nights we stray away from small groups and usually have a student or two share their testimonies.
Nobody knows what students are going through on a daily basis more than other students. This gives them the chance to hear from someone who has the same struggles that they do.
Can I confess something? I’ve struggled a little bit with pride when it comes to the things above. I have spent hours praying, studying, and crafting what I feel like is the best message of my life, only for it to fall on deaf ears. Then we will have a student share a story that is short, simple, and God-centered. Honestly, on those nights it feels like students are flooding to the altar to pray together.
Through those experiences, I realized that my group responded best to stories. I also realized that those who sit in our student area every single week have a story to tell. It is up to me to help them craft them and give them the opportunities to share. The story of a student’s life is an evangelism tool that sits right in front of us each and every week.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: C.J. SMITH
C.J. has been in student ministry for 9 years and in my current position for over 6 years. Currently C.J. is serving as Student Pastor at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Rockingham, NC. He has been married to his wife, Amber, since May of 2010. They are huge Tennessee Volunteer fans and have a four year old son named Neylan. He am a sports junkie who loves students!