This will be a weird post in that I want to share an idea that we recently did for an outreach, but I will also share how it didn’t go off as I hoped. The reason I am sharing it is because the moment this idea was shared with me I loved the concept and I still love the idea and believe in the heart of it. I didn’t think of it so I will just go ahead and say it is my favorite student ministry outreach idea out right now…hands down.
I have a friend Alyssa Corrova, who grew up in our ministry and is now on staff with Cru at Miami (Ohio) University. She is a top-level leader and Kristin and I respect the heck out of her and are on her support team. She is younger and cooler than me so last summer I asked her if she could do any one outreach event (because I wanted to add a new high school event) what would it be? She said she had long dreamed of an event that wasn’t about a time, or place, but was about the gospel infiltrating people’s paths via facebook. She described to me a campaign where students would film there story’s (testimony) and put them up on the same day with the same look/feel/branding so it would be obvious they were connected, but they wouldn’t say you need to come hear this speaker at this conference or anything like that, but they would simply said this is me, this is my story, and I want you to know about it, you can even talk to me if this stirs your heart.
I loved the idea. I called it an outreach 2.0 event. It was simply about the gospel and people sharing their stories that obviously glorify God…and nothing else.
We decided to name the event storytellers, because it captured the heart of the event and because Elevation church had a logo, bumper and some other great stuff available on their resources page for free.
What I love about the event is that a great outreach (dodgeball in our world) will have 60% of the people in the room who don’t know Jesus, but this event can have 80-90% easily. We have all read a friends Facebook status update, or checked out a picture or video that they posted. It is easy to get your captive network to watch your stuff because they love you and want to support you. I told our students that if only 10 people did this event and they each got their testimony to be viewed 20 times we have shard the gospel 200 times. Having a youtube video that you promote and link to viewed 20 times is very conservative, so the exponential potential of the event is through the roof. That coupled with the fact that in this day and age people might argue the existence of God or the validity of God in their mind, but they will rarely argue with someone’s story.
You have now heard what I think is the genius of the event and why it really can’t fail. I will not tell you how it was executed, the successes, the failures, and what my expectations were going in and coming out of the event.
The Wednesday night before the event, we themed the whole night around Storytellers. I taught on the gospel and the importance of sharing our faith and than bridged this being a simple opportunity. We than guided students through how to write/frame their story and than I showed them a video I created that would be similar to the one they would film.
The sheet said things like 1) tell us about yourself (family, background, who you were before Christ), 2) what was going wrong in your life or what woke you up to the fact there is more in life 3) How did God find you? 4) How is your life different with Christ? 5) We than had students explain the gospel and possibly share a favorite verse.
We have four values as a church and a ministry. I have always said that when we are healthy, we want 100% of our people worshipping, 75 percent in groups, 50% serving, and 25% sharing their faith. I think I thought this outreach was accessible and somehow took the maturity that it takes to share your faith. I thought that more students would engage in this, but the reality is in most groups only 25% are ready to share their faith.
Here are some things I would do to try and make the event something that more students took part in.
- I thought if we did it on a Sunday during church and after 9am-4pm we would have everyone able to do it and already at church, not at sports/work, and able to sign up for a spot. That wasn’t the case, we still had people avoid it. There is no time you can get that makes people want to share their faith better.
- I wish I would have built Wednesday so the first part would be the explanation and promotion and the second part would be filming videos. That would take a lot of cameras but I think it would have given a few more the encouragement.
Having said those things, the event is a guaranteed success because we define success as people sharing Jesus. We had around 20 students do videos and they shared their faith. They didn’t just share their faith, but the videos on average were viewed over 100 times, so they shared their faith to a whole lot of friends and family.
I hope to see some other ministry get to morph this idea and watch it spread.