How to Use the Ultimate Guide to Outreach Ideas for Your Youth Group
Today’s teenagers desperately need Jesus.
According to research by the Barna Group, those in Generation Z are twice as likely to hold atheistic views than older generations. They have higher levels of anxiety than any other generation. They’re dealing with huge issues like self-harm, suicide, and school shootings. So many are trapped in darkness, and they need a Savior.
To make matters worse, sharing the gospel with others is often viewed as politically incorrect—if not downright wrong—in this age of moral relativism and elusive truth. How do we encourage teens to own their faith and share their hope in Christ in such a hostile world?
At Dare 2 Share, we believe the most effective way to help teens live for Christ and share the gospel is getting them off the sidelines and on the playing field. It’s helping them back up mere talk about evangelism with action. It’s equipping them with tools and strategies to engage in conversations with love, grace, and boldness. It’s creating a ministry culture centered on one mission: the Great Commission.
Outreach experiences are catalytic, igniting passion to serve others and to share the gospel within teenagers. Because as your students meet the physical needs of the lost, they’ll find open doors to explain their hope in Jesus as well.
The Ultimate Guide to Outreach Ideas for Your Youth Group will have ideas and inspiration for every season to help you implement an others-focused, outreach-driven culture in your ministry. For now, we have nine ideas that are perfect for summertime. Follow these ideas verbatim or add your own spin to make them ideal to your ministry’s context. Either way, be prepared for a lot of fun with your students and for powerful testimonies to tell afterward!
When you try out these outreach ideas, we’d love to hear about what God did through your students! Send your stories to [email protected]e.org so we can celebrate and encourage you and your students.
Warm Weather Outreach Ideas
Youth ministry and warm weather were practically made for each other. Summer nights spent playing volleyball, having water fights, or eating ice cream add a little extra fun to youth group times.
But youth ministry should never be just about the fun and games. It’s about equipping students to be ambassadors of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and warm weather can open more doors for powerful, gospel advancing outreach events to cultivate your students’ faith and their passion for sharing it.
Doing outreach events with your students lets them put their faith into action—to focus on the needs of others and to share the love of Christ. Here are nine warm weather outreach ideas to try with your youth group to get your teens on mission for the gospel.
1. Prayer walk at a local high school.
The most important part of any endeavor we take on for God’s kingdom is to lead with prayer. We want to teach students that God isn’t just looking for our outward actions—He wants our whole hearts and our dependence on Him! (Try unpacking this concept with your students using Amos 5:18-24 and Psalm 51:16-17.)
In fact, in a youth ministry where students are actively sharing the gospel (what we call a Gospel Advancing Ministry), prayer is at the forefront of every activity. The first of the 7 Values of a Gospel Advancing Ministry is “Intercessory prayer fuels it.” So, before unleashing students to evangelize, we must lead them in praying for the lost and asking God for help to share the gospel well. As someone once said, we need to talk to God about people before talking to people about God.
Do you want to know more about how to lead a Gospel Advancing Ministry? Find out how to transform your youth ministry at GospelAdvancing.org.
Here are some ideas from the National Network of Youth Ministry (NNYM) on how to pray for local schools with your students:
- Meet your students at their school and walk around campus, praying for lost students and that God would give your teens greater gospel influence at school. Add time for lunch and use it to ask your students about their fears or insights on sharing the gospel. This event doesn’t need a ton of planning—you could even do it during your normal youth group time. Read more about NNYM’s ideas on praying at school campuses.
- Make it a regular thing in your youth group to pray for lost teens in your local schools. This post by NNYM explains the powerful impact of “adopting” a school to pray for. Think of how empowered your students will feel knowing that so many people are praying for them as they share the gospel! If we want to see a gospel wildfire sweep through our middle schools and high schools, prayer is the gasoline to fuel it into an unquenchable blaze.
Claim Your Campus (CYC) is another ministry with powerhouse resources and events to get students praying. The CYC app is the perfect tool to coach students through launching an organized, sustainable prayer movement at their schools. Find out more about the Claim Your Campus strategy for reaching this generation.
2. Host a “gospelized” car wash
A classic summer sight is teenagers on the street corner holding signs for a car wash—usually for the cheer team, National Honor Society, etc. Turn this traditional fundraiser idea into an outreach event where students can serve the community and share the gospel!
We got this idea from a youth pastor named Josh Weatherspoon in Virginia. Josh says,
We did an outreach event called the ‘$1 Car Wash.’ As people pulled in to get their car washed, they’d try to give us money up front, to which we’d tell them that we’d get it all settled up after their car was clean.
Once clean, we would then have them look their car over and we would give them $1 (or at least try to). This would lead into a somewhat natural transition based on this simple analogy about grace and God giving us what we didn’t deserve.”
Check out this post for a closer look at how to “gospelize” a car wash and to find a list of supplies you’ll need. This idea is also included in Dare 2 Share’s eBook called 5 Outreach Ideas for Summer for Youth Ministry that has even more awesome warm weather outreach ideas.
3. Host a neighborhood block party at your church
Teenagers crave playing a role in a powerful movement for a worthy cause. They want ownership in something that matters. Reaching the world for Christ is a cause that fits the bill, and an effective outreach event in your church’s neighborhood could be the perfect way to jumpstart your students’ passion for the gospel.
This post by Christianity Today talks about youth groups around the country who are reaching their communities in unique ways. A youth group in Florida has developed a powerful strategy for reaching their community through regular outreach events in their neighborhood. Students use their weekends to meet, plan outreach events, and then go into the community to share the gospel and invite people to church.
Along those lines, one event that can give your students the chance to serve others and share their faith is a neighborhood block party hosted at your church—an event with food, music, games, etc. Honestly, block parties are great events for your whole congregation to be a part of because of how effective they are at opening doors for new relationships and gospel advancement!
Make sure to include your students in every part of the planning process. Let them participate in planning meetings and ask them for ideas. Ask them to lead times of prayer for the event. Train them to share the gospel and take them out to canvass the neighborhood with flyers about the block party. Challenge them to engage in gospel conversations along the way, then take time to prepare them for the big day of serving and sharing the gospel.
This kind of event can have a lot of logistics to figure out, so check out this article for help and steps to planning an evangelistic block party with your students.
4. Picnic at the park
When the weather’s nice, parks and other public places can fill up fast with people who want to enjoy the weather, but who also probably need the gospel. Brandon Van Dyk, one of Dare 2 Share’s youth leader friends from California, shared this outreach idea with us that’s perfect for summer:
We have a park nearby where homeless people frequent. If you plan on serving your students lunch or some sort of snack, buy a little extra. Have your students share their food and their life story with the people they meet. It’s encouraging to watch students fan out and begin offering a slice of pizza, a dose of encouragement, a listening ear, intercessory prayer and the gospel.
Find a more in-depth version of this idea and other summer outreach ideas for youth ministry in this free eBook from Dare 2 Share!
This event could happen on a Saturday or during your normal youth group time. Always send out your students in twos or threes so they’re never alone, and make sure to have enough adult leaders to keep an eye on everyone.
Do your students know how to share the gospel with someone they meet? Sonlife has some great resources and strategies on evangelism like these simple gospel presentation tools. Or, show your students this “4 Minute Crash Course in Sharing Your Faith” video and have them download the Life in 6 Words app for help during gospel conversations.
5. Encourage students to volunteer at your church’s VBS
Vacation Bible School is a tried-and-true strategy for reaching unchurched families in the community. If your church is doing VBS this year, encourage your students to give a little time and help share Christ’s love with kids coming through your church’s doors!
A lot of short-term, youth group mission trips involve some sort of VBS program in the community you travel to. Mission trips can be awesome experiences, make sure to remind your students that what they can do in another country, they can also do in their own church. As you train and encourage your students to live Christ-centered, gospel advancing lives, explain that meaningful community outreach can happen in their very own neighborhood, and VBS is a great chance to do just that.
6. Host a free neighborhood garage sale
A “free garage sale” at your church is like a block party on steroids. It’s an incredible way to bless people in your community and to show them that you, God’s people, are ready to care for them the way Jesus cares for them.
This event will take some planning in advance, but just like the block party idea, it’s the perfect opportunity to get your teens involved and taking ownership in a gospel-centered cause. Plus, when teens lead the charge in outreach and gospel–sharing, it can motivate adults to jump all in too!
For this outreach idea, form teams within your youth group and delegate tasks to students to get the job done. Here are some steps for making this event happen:
- A few months before:
- Advertise to your congregation that you’ll be collecting donations for the free garage sale/giveaway coming up.
- Donations should be gently used items like clothing, house ware, books, etc.
- Print out flyers and posters, put the event in the bulletin, announce it during your church service, put it on social media, etc.
- Advertise to your congregation that you’ll be collecting donations for the free garage sale/giveaway coming up.
- A few weeks before:
- Tell people to bring in their donations to drop-off stations around the church.
- Have students go through and organize donations so that set-up on the day of the event is easier.
- Print flyers about the event and take your students out to canvass the neighborhood, telling people about this FREE “garage sale” happening at your church.
- Train students on how to share the gospel so they can engage in gospel conversations during the event. To train them, use the Life in 6 Words app from Dare 2 Share, or pull inspiration from these ideas from Sonlife.
- Day of the event:
- Have students and all other volunteers set up tables, clothes racks, etc. with all donations.
- Station students outside your church with signs to grab the attention of passerby.
- Station students and volunteers at various tables to help people with the goods they pick out.
At the end of this event, make sure to come together to pray and reflect on what God did. If you have the budget for it, buy pizza for all your students and volunteers or have a barbeque to celebrate.
7. Ice Cream Outreach
Ice cream isn’t super appetizing when it’s freezing outside, but it’s always a favorite treat in the summertime.
This summer, pick a month to challenge your students with an “Ice Cream Outreach” initiative. The challenge is to take one unsaved friend out for ice cream at some point during the month, to ask intentional questions, and start a gospel conversation.
Before you commission your students for this Ice Cream Outreach month, train them on initiating and navigating gospel conversations. And of course, prioritize tons of prayer and encouragement during youth group. This will help your students know that they are well-prepared, prayed for, and empowered to share the gospel.
Then at the end of the Ice Cream Outreach month, take all your students out for an ice cream celebration during youth group and ask for testimonies of how they saw God work in their conversations. And hopefully, you’ll have a few new faces in the group that your students have brought along—a perfect opportunity to explain the gospel to those who have more questions about Jesus.
This idea is one of eight from this article from Dare 2 Share that will help you advance the gospel through your youth ministry.
8. Back-to-school supplies drive
Before school starts up again, a great event to get your students serving the community is to put together backpacks for children in need. You could keep this event within your church and bless families in your congregation and church’s neighborhood. Or, partner with another ministry like Cru that has an established program for donating backpacks, or what they call Power Packs, to kids in need. Find out more about Cru’s Power Packs program.
For this event, you’ll need to find out where you’ll be getting supplies for these backpacks. Here are a few questions to ask:
- Will you ask for donations from the church or use part of your youth group budget to purchase school items?
- When will you and your students put together these backpacks?
- What families do you want to bless with these school supply gifts?
As your students are putting together these backpacks, lead them in a time of prayer for the kids who will receive these gifts. If you end up distributing the backpacks yourselves, pray together for opportunities to engage in gospel conversations!
9. Hold a concentrated prayer time
We’ve mentioned prayer quite a bit throughout these outreach ideas, but a time of “concentrated group prayer” will take prayer time with your students to the next level.
National Network of Youth Ministry (NNYM) wrote a post titled “The Power of Group Prayer” that lays out how concentrated prayer time can impact students’ lives forever:
“This form of praying is actually linked to having a deep and personal conversation with God. As in a conversation with friends and family, it includes listening and expressing and sometimes exhausting a topic before moving on to another.
“As we enter into focused, concentrated group prayer it is good to quiet our hearts with a time of silence and confession. We are then much more sensitive to pray under the direction and in alignment with the Holy Spirit.”
Take advantage of the warm weather and hold your concentrated prayer time out in nature, maybe at a park or somewhere on your church’s property. Let students find a spot by themselves to marvel at God’s creation and have some time for private prayer for about 15-20 minutes.
If you need tips on how to lead your students in passionate prayer for the lost, check out these five steps from GospelAdvancing.org that will help you do just that.
BONUS: An Outreach Event to Kick Off the School Year
Once summer is over, keep the outreach and gospel sharing momentum going by taking your youth group to an event like Dare 2 Share LIVE. This one-day, nationwide evangelism training event happening October 12 equips teenagers for gospel advancement in their own schools and community.
Dare 2 Share LIVE is a one-day evangelism training event that equips thousands of teens across the nation to start a gospel revolution in their communities. This simulcast event from Dare 2 Share Ministries trains attendees to pray, serve others, and share their faith—all at the exact same time. The event is broadcast live from Denver, CO to locations across the Western Hemisphere, and students get the chance to serve and share the gospel in their local communities during the day.
This year, teens will be trained and inspired to fight for the souls of their lost friends under the rally cry #Fight2Win/strong>. Find a Dare 2 Share LIVE location near you and get your Church Kit today to secure a spot for all your students to attend this faith-transforming event!