A New Day for Youth Evangelism

Posted by on Jan 3, 2000 in good idea! | 2 Comments

Youth ministry in this diocese is set up to promote spiritual and social growth so that our young people will grow up to be both Christians and Anglicans who can fit into their society-not to conform with that society, of course, but in order to transform it into Christ-likeness. 

My approach is to mentor the youth leaders, who are themselves lay young people between the ages of 18 and 24. In my first few months in this job, I have been amazed at what God can do. In February, for example, we went for a hike in the mountains, to get to know each other and to set the new tone for the youth department. A total of 235 came, both leaders and youth, a staggering number.

Overall, I am responsible for 41 parishes and 80 churches in and around Nairobi. I am grateful for the presence of youth in all those churches, and that each of the 80 has a youth worker. I realize I cannot mentor all 80, however, so one of the things I have done is to create an inner circle of about twelve people. Between us, we have divided the diocese into divisions, one leader responsible for each. We meet in the inner circle, and those twelve take ideas from there back to the grass roots.

I also make sure that I am in touch with every single youth leader of every single church in the diocese. We organize team-building and mentoring sessions where they get to ask questions, air their struggles, and pour out their hearts. We can then help not only address their needs but also move them on in their maturity. Our job is not only to sweep out the trash, but also the to furnish the house!

For some years now, evangelism in Kenya has been 80% based on the crusade preaching model, and I can safely say that it has been over-used. It used to be the case, for example, that people were allowed to preach on public transport vehicles, but it has now been banned because after every sermon the preachers would ask everybody on the bus for money!

I would like to see our evangelism more people-focused, more love-focused. The Gospel tells us that Jesus was moved with compassion. I keep talking about social evangelism. For Africa, the best way to evangelize is to combat poverty. I am intrigued by the fact that the Bible says that the early church had favour with all the people even as the evangelism was going on. I would not say that of the Church in Kenya at the moment! There needs to be a two or three pronged approach to evangelism, where there is also doing good and being practical alongside our verbal communication, so that people can relate to the church and we can bridge the gap between the pulpit and the person in the pew.

In my view, there needs to be a coming together of all the ministries that are involved in evangelism to take stock of what has happened and to reassess our strategy. Then I hope for a new, united effort of all the churches based on the principles that Jesus held dear.

I still love to be involved in direct youth ministry. I take a pastoral class in a high school where I am allowed to teach the Gospel. Most of the youth there are from the affluent community, most of whom don’t go to church. So for me this is a splendid opportunity to minister to unchurched people. So far, about seven of them have made a decision for the Lord Jesus. They asked a lot of questions, and we had a lot of sessions outside of class. I didn’t push any of them. We would meet once or twice a week, and sometimes we would meet to play football or do something totally unconnected with church. For them, seeing me in a collar on Wednesday and seeing me in shorts on the football field on other days totally threw them off! So it was really a combination of very many things that drew them to Christ.

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The Rev. Tom Otieno is Youth Co-ordinator for the Diocese of Nairobi.

2 Comments

  1. avatar
    Jon
    March 12, 2009

    I appreciate your willingness to speak to Youth Evangelism, although I truly believe many of us are missing the boat and waiting too long to actually begin discipling these youth. They are capable of great works for God at very early ages. http://evangelizetheyouth.com/

    Reply
  2. avatar
    Serah
    November 23, 2011

    Rev. Tom you are truly doing a great work with the Youth. God bless you richly. How can I receive the notes you are teaching on Hope FM on Young people and satanism? Have not been able to follow. Thank you. You are a great blessing.

    Reply

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