We live in a church culture that is numbers drive, and quite frankly I am okay with that. Numbers represent people and people matter. We should want every seat filled in our churches so we can faithfully proclaim the Gospel to all the hearers. Student Pastors sometimes take this a step further. They bribe their students to bring a friend
Gift cards, money, and more for whoever brings the most friends on a Wednesday. I don’t think it’s necessarily sinful to do this, but you will never seeing me do this. I commend Student Pastors for wanting to fill up their Youth Rooms (for the right reasons, hopefully) I take a different approach though.
You see, I believe when we do these gimmicks to invite people we are sending the wrong message. Your student is not inviting someone because they are lost in desperate need of the Gospel. They are doing for that dollar, or whatever prize is being given. The greatest reward to bringing someone to church would be to see their life transformed by the very Gospel that saved them. Do we really need to be bribed for that to happen? When we become children of God it should not even be a question. We have to tell people what we have in us. I don’t want my students to invite someone because they will be rewarded. I want them to invite someone because they have been changed by the Gospel and understand the importance of every human being on earth hearing this message. The Gospel is why I want my students to invite friends, not reward.
Here are a few reasons that our students may not be inviting their unchurched friends:
Students Don’t Get the Importance
We are failing to communicate the importance of this of bringing friends. It’s not about having a big youth groups, or an awesome time. It’s about seeing people walk from darkness into light. I have attended too many youth services where the communicator tries too hard to be cool. Just preach the Gospel, it works. It was good enough to save us, and it’s good enough to save many more. A message that is filled with jokes, little Scripture, and sinner’s prayer at the end is not communicating (in my opinion) the importance of sharing our message.
Take a series and go over this important command. Teach what Jesus said and what the disciples lived through to get this message out. Emphasize if you have been saved their are two options when it comes to sharing our faith: obedience or disobedience.
Haven’t Been Taught
In a lot of cases the students don’t know how to invite others. I always tell my students do not be “odd for God.” The two biggest fears in outreach are rejection and not knowing what to say. We have to encourage and help students get past these two big fears. Students are not going to do something they don’t know how to do. Again, walk through Scripture and be honest that it won’t always go the way you want it. You can’t expect someone to solve a calculus equation without being first taught how to solve it. Same with inviting friends, we have to teach our students how and why we invite people to church.
Go out with them and let them see how you invite others, which is my next point.
They Haven’t Seen Us Do This
Are we asking students to do something we do not do? I am blessed to be in the schools all during the week. I lead Bible Studies in one of our local middle and high schools, and help out at FCA at another two schools. When I am there I make it a point to speak with students, and invite those without a church to come with us. If they see us inviting the students might just do the same. As the old saying goes, practice what you preach.
I am not perfect at this and it is somewhere I am challenging myself everyday to become better.
They Are Lost
Another plausible reason is your students are not saved to begin with. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. You can bet that if your students are not Christians that they will not be inviting others to church. Faithfully preach the Gospel every week and pray for your students. As we see them come to know Jesus we disciple them. This is a very important thing that we must do with students. In our discipleship. I really believe this is where we can emphasize the importance of bringing a friend to church, and learning more about what the Scriptures say. Are we faithfully discipling our students? If not, maybe we should try to that before we bribe them to inviting friends.
I want my students to want to bring their friends. Not because our youth group is cool, not because it will make me happy, not because it makes them feel good, definitely not so they will be rewarded, but simply because they take joy and satisfaction in following and obeying Jesus.