Back to Christian Witnessing: Young People

Philip Howard
Working With Boys (Young People)

Young people were always of interest to Jesus. Be it the children being brought to Jesus, the young boy who gave his lunch to Jesus, or the young adults who followed Him, Jesus always attracted a following and seemed to know how to work with them. Working with them, not at or for them is still the key. The three chapters that make up "Witnessing to a Boy" provide helpful information on how to witness to young people of either gender. However, because there are differences between boys and girls when it comes to interests, motivators and rates of spiritual maturity, a slightly different ministry approach is called for. These chapters are slanted towards working with boys (Partially due to the differences just mentioned and also because the author apparently had experience with boys). Perhaps I will find an article slanted towards working with girls. Please suggest if you know of one. This article was first published in 1902 in the Record of Christian Work.

Ch. 1: Working With a Young Person (link for chapter)
“How easily the lawyer might have made the fatal mistake of holding merely to his own natural tastes in his dealings with the boys! But he was wise and observant, seeing their need and his own opportunity. When he found himself not quite in touch with the boys, he began to invite them one by one to walk with him after school on Sunday. He would end the walk at the boy’s home, as a rule, but not the opportunity. For within the home circle of each of these hard working boys he soon was known and loved through the Sunday afternoon visit. Nor was this all….” (Learn the secret of working with young people in reading the rest of this chapter)

Ch. 2: Winning a Young Person to Christ (link for chapter
“To work with a boy in leading him to a decision for Christ is a very different matter from working at him. It is well to bear in mind at all times that the boy himself knows the difference almost intuitively. To work with a boy is to enter into his own way of doing things, and into his own boyhood thinking. To work at him is to ignore everything but that which you presume is his need, and to take no account of the ways peculiar to himself by which he is to arrive at a knowledge of his real need. “A boy’s will is the wind’s will,”—and you cannot sail dead into the wind. In order to win a boy to Christ you must know what significant phase of the character of Jesus will appeal most strongly to the boy with whom you are dealing. For a boy is not likely to adopt the grown-up error of looking at Christ through the smoked glass of argument. His vision so far as it goes will be clear, and positive, and quick. It will be a matter of no small moment to choose what phase or phases of the character of Jesus shall be brought to his view most vividly in your effort.” (Read more about winning a young person to Christ)

Ch. 3: Teaching To Win Other Young People to Christ (link for chapter)
“… Certain facts as to boy nature are guideposts to the right way of reaching a boy with the evangelistic idea. It may be assumed that the boy is always glad to let other boys know, individually, when he gets a present of a new knife. If he owns a first-class football outfit he does not hide it from view, but he is likely to wear it in season and out of season. Whatever material possession he acquires is rarely withheld from his playmates. Experience with boys in the things of the spirit confirms the conviction that a boy is generally willing and sometimes eager to tell other boys, individually, of what Jesus means to him. The spirit of indifference is rarely found in boy-life. Enthusiasm is rather the rule. Life is new and intensely interesting to a boy, and he does not share in the wearied and sometimes cynical views of older folks. He will not think of so many false reasons why it is hard to speak to others personally about Christ as a grown man will. If Christ is real to him, he can make him real to another boy, and he makes little fuss about it. In the light of these facts it remains for one who is training a boy in speaking to other boys individually for Christ, to utilize and to assume as a means at the start, these natural boy tendencies. One organized group of boys may serve as an illustration of what special training can do in this phase of boy work….” (Read more about teaching young people to reach other young people)