It is tempting to think that in order to make a major impact in our world, we have to reach as many people as quickly as possible. But in this mentality, I think we miss out on the opportunity to go deep in exchange for the chance that we might go wide.
Let me explain. Last term, our Pais team (a team of five young adults who do schools and church work in Southport) planned a day we called Kingdom Heroes Day, which was a day for young people to get a taster of a day in the life of a Christian. We originally hoped for as many young people as possible to show up, but in the end, we only had five young people come.
This was discouraging at first, but the further we got into the day, the more we saw that five was the perfect number. There was one young person per team member, and we got to specifically focus on each one individually.
We gave them biblical teaching on the Great Commission that Jesus gives all believers in Matthew:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
After that, we went into town to actually put the teaching into practice. Kyra, a girl in year 9, said, “I thought mission would be like being a spy, or being in an army and being commanded to do something. But today, I experienced going into town and giving out You are Loved cards with chocolates to share God’s love.”
Her younger sister Maisy had a similar experience in regards to worship. She said, “Before Kingdom Heroes Day, I thought worship was where you kneel, put your hands together, close your eyes, and say a prayer in your head. But I’ve experienced that there’s lots of ways to worship, by singing, by drawing, by listening.”
These young people came in with a variety of purposes, some desiring to learn more about Jesus, some to get a sense of Christian community with other believers their age, some just to have something to do for the day. The one common denominator, though, was that each young person who came already had a relationship with someone on our team. In order to spend a day investing deeply like we were able, the groundwork had to be done beforehand.
We see the example of a leader focusing on a small group demonstrated beautifully by Jesus in His time on Earth. He sought out those few who might follow Him, and with the simple yet beautiful words, Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people, He called them to Himself. Then at once, they dropped their nets to follow Him (Matthew 4:19-20).
It was after this that Jesus took these men, twelve in total, along with him during his ministry. They sat at his feet as he preached to masses the sermon on the mount. They stood beside him as he healed countless people. They saw him give time and attention to society’s outcasts. Their minds were blown as Jesus, the Son of God, washed their feet. Jesus took time to teach His disciples and take them on eye-opening experiences.
A CALL TO PRAY
Please pray that God provides for those who work with young people in Southport creativity, passion, and opportunities. Pray that God will show them ways to take young people beyond the normal church services and perhaps even beyond the church walls to experience mission and worship in new ways.
Pray also that we as a global Church won’t be stuck in a “religious rut,” so singularly-minded, that we’re unable to see the extraordinary experiences God allows us to have. God isn’t boring–he’s full of imagination, creativity, wonder, and adventure. It’s important that we help young people to see this aspect of God, because so many young people simply don’t see the point in Christianity.
As you pray for these things, consider asking God to show you people around you that you can take along on an experience, showing them the many facets of God.
Shelby Bland is a first year Pais Apprentice from Texas in the States, currently serving in Southport.