We’ve heard of “outreach events” before. Usually, they refer to some kind of outing for students to invite friends. In some cases, outreach events include a very specific “salvation” message and a call to respond (i.e. altar call). However, there are times when a pre-evangelistic event (which is part of outreach) may be a better first point of engagement. Centre Court is a pre-evangelistic event.

For our Centre Court event with the Toronto Raptors, we have two objectives:

  1. For invited friends to experience the positive impact of Jesus in the lives of professional athletes, students and leaders in a neutral location.
  2. For those invited friends to become acquainted with the group they came with in hopes of furthering faith conversations.

While on the surface our event seems to entail a lot of “entertainment”, we recognize the crux of the ministry happens “in between the cracks” i.e. in the conversations that happen on the ride to and from the Air Canada Centre, standing in line for a (overpriced) hot dog or in between plays during the game. Our testimonies from both the Raptor player and a local student give a first-hand account for how Jesus influences them. Then it’s up to the group leaders to utilize those tools in further conversations about faith in the weeks following.

A pre-evangelistic event doesn’t have to involve Centre Court. Others have used a gym drop-in, a night of boardgames or “ice cream crawls” to have a first point of engagement. In our CBOQ Youth 20/20, we’ve identified, for many students, the first step in faith development begins with “I belong”. A neutral location helps to initiate that relationship between unchurched friends and your youth group.

Where does pre-evangelism begin for your youth ministry?