Nov 30, 2022 | 6 min read | Ben Robertson
In 2020, as our Josiah Venture missionary team was quickly evolving and adapting to keep up with the wreaking havoc of COVID, our leadership team decided to try a unique experiment. What if our team was equipped to create a day event of encouragement for youth workers called “Youth Ministry Recharge”?
This little missional experiment changed the trajectory of our regional ministry in the northwest corner of the Czech Republic.
In 2020, we went all out to host our first Youth Ministry Recharge event. We eagerly anticipated what God would do and was blown away as nine incredible youth leaders walked through the aluminum doors of our concrete church. That first Recharge was powerful. We laughed together, cried together, and prayed together while realizing we were not alone in the lockdowns, quarantines, and never-ending restrictions.
In 2021, our Recharge journey continued. As our country began to climb out of its COVID coma, we decided to host another Recharge event for the youth leaders in our region. We again held our breath, hoping that the leaders from last year would return and that a few new leaders would attend. We were elated as 22 youth leaders came to encourage one another, to pray together, and to inspire one another with real-life stories of the highs and lows of youth ministry. We walked away from that day humbled with gratitude as one leader shared, “Today, I felt seen, valued, and loved.”
For that reason, this fall, we eagerly anticipated what God might want to do during this strategic day event. As the registrations flooded in, and as we obsessed over whether or not we ordered enough food, we prayerfully planned for a roomful of leaders desiring full hearts of encouragement. That morning, as the doors opened on November 12th, we watched as, one by one, 30 incredible youth leaders from eight different churches arrived with eagerness to learn what it means to be a Messenger of Hope.
The day started with a time of prayer and worship as we readied our hearts for what was to come. Then, we launched into an inspiring video series produced by our talented JV Communications team about examining our hearts behind evangelism. One of our JV teammates, Lyubov, shared about how her name literally means “love” in Bulgarian. She challenged all of us in the room to share the meaning behind our names and to look even deeper at our identities in Christ. As the discussion groups deepened, so did the sharing, as many leaders stepped out in courage to share their hopes, dreams, fears, and hesitations around evangelism.
Then, after a delicious break filled with coffee and chocolate chip muffins, we launched back into another series of video teachings to explore our “head” in evangelism. There was a noticeable gasp in the room as one of our JV teammates, Stojce, shared how his TikTok devotional videos in Serbia have garnered more than 57,000 followers. It was almost as if his example unlocked a missional imagination about the untapped potential in how to use social media for evangelism. Then, Stojce challenged all of us, by the example of Jesus in John 4, to persevere and press through barriers (that we often set up ourselves). Rather than simply discussing the highs of evangelism, the leaders were invited to vulnerably share about a time when they turned down an opportunity to speak about Jesus.
Then, right before an epic lunch break filled with chicken jalfrezi, garlic naan, and steamed rice, we opened up the mic for the leaders to share their recent stories of evangelism. One leader humbly shared about how he started building a relationship with one of his friends from school. Each day they commuted to school by train, and this leader was able to share Jesus with him. He even invited his friend to come to a group of Christian students who gather weekly at the local university. Many were encouraged to see how the Good News thrives through deep relational connections built on trust and genuine friendship.
After lunch, we jumped into our final video series led by our JV teammate, Darius. He challenged us in the practical nature of evangelism by focusing on “our hands.” During discussion groups, the leaders did some role-playing and practiced sharing the Gospel with each other using four simple symbols.
With the final hour of time, we set up a time of reflection for the leaders to process all they experienced throughout the day. More than anything, we were praying that the learning from the day would sink deep into the leaders’ hearts to truly make that monumental shift from the head to the heart. Some leaders sat and prayed while other leaders journeyed around the room, visiting four different posters with four different questions, all pertaining to the greater theme of sharing hope with others. Then, for the final five minutes, Sarah stood up with unbridled joy and passion, thanking each of the leaders for their investment in the region. With tears in her eyes, she pointed to the hope we have in Jesus and how our Father loves bringing his kids together.
A couple of hours after we all walked away from this monumental event, one of the leaders from the region, with loads of creative skills, captured Sarah’s final words on camera, edited them into an Instagram reel, and now the video has already been viewed over 2,900 times.
We want to leave you with one final compelling question, “What ‘little experiment’ may God be inviting you into?”
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