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Empowering Teens To Share Their Faith Journey
I was blown away by her witness talk and couldn't wait for her to share it during the retreat. She was nervous and asked me, "Do you have any thoughts?" I pointed out some of the highlights and made sure she emphasized certain points. I had her rehearse one more time at a slower pace and encouraged her to present from the heart. When it came time for her to share her testimony, she hit it out of the park.
You can't underestimate the power of a teen's witness. There is something raw and honest about what they are sharing. A student's testimony is a moment in time that captures what they are learning about life and their relationship with God. If you want teens to grow into disciples who nurture other disciples, then you have to teach them how to witness. While some teens are natural at this, others need coaching, and here is how you can help:
MAKE IT A MINISTRY HABIT
God calls us to be witnesses throughout the entire earth (Acts 1:8), and at the end of Mass, we're called to go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Our faith might be personal, but it should never be private.
Teaching and showing the next generation how to witness should be a part of your curriculum. You can cultivate the habit by encouraging journaling and sharing in small groups. Set aside times on retreats or offer a workshop where teens learn how to give a witness and practice it in front of others. Don't make it a one-time thing; ensure it's a part of your ministry's culture.
POINT TO SOMEONE TO MODEL IT
One of the reasons teens don't witness or know how to is because of a lack of models. Teaching your catechists, small group leaders, and volunteers how to share their story is important not only for teens but also for the adult's own relationship with Christ.
When you train your catechists, make sure you give them time to practice their testimony. Encourage them to share their story over a few sessions and view this opportunity as a way of catechizing through life sharing.
SHAPE THEIR FLOW
How long is a good testimony? What should a young person cover in their talk? These are some of the questions you have to help them answer as they prepare. Set up your teenagers for success by providing an outline, or a few prompts to get the conversation going. MYM Premium and MYM U members have access to a template called "You Have A Story Worth Sharing."
In this template, we guide teens to think about how God has encountered their life in a certain situation or over the span of their life. It's amazing how the teens interpret the questions and develop a testimony that is compelling and clear.
Regardless of what you do, make sure you help them focus on a central message that they can deliver so that their peers can see how God has impacted their lives. Have the student write out the testimony and practice their delivery.
SHOW THEM HOW TO OWN IT
You might feel like this is a lot of work for something that should be authentic and from the heart. You do have to be careful that you aren't teaching the teens to perform, but you do want them to own it.
Have your teens pray over the testimony in addition to practicing. Guide them to invite the Holy Spirit to be a part of the conversation and remind them the purpose is to glorify God. When they can own their witness, they'll deliver it with both authenticity and confidence.
GIVE THEM THE PLATFORM
You want to equip young people to share their story in the real world and with their friends; however, that might not seem practical at first. Give teens a platform by inviting them to share on retreats, during small groups, and even at the end of Mass.
Make sure you invite others to hear them speak, especially adults. The more you can lift them up and give them a platform, the more comfortable they will be with speaking about their faith. Ultimately, you'll have a group of students ready to inspire and invite others to follow Christ.
Don't overlook this essential discipleship habit. Let teens know they have a story to share and watch them become the beacon of faith, worship, and witness the world needs.
Want more resources, and training to help you grow disciples? Check out MYM Premium. For only $3.99/month or $39.99/year you'll receive access to a wealth of resources.