I have had a number of fantastic conversations with my friends in youth ministry lately. Quite often the subject matter has turned toward the pulpit and the type of messages we are hearing (or speaking). Subsequently, I had an online conversation last night that really put me over the top in my desire to write this post.
The conversation went something like this:
Me: Tell me why you were somewhat critical of the speaker from the camp? It seems like many students and even other youth pastors liked him from what I read on facebook.
Friend: Ask those people if this speaker ever once mentioned the Gospel (or the cross)?
This opened up a great dialog, we spoke for quite some time about our philosophies of preaching, Bible Clubs on campus, Christian media, etc. It was truly a wonderful conversation!
I love his jealousy for the Gospel and the need for us (as ministries) to make the public proclamation of Christ from our pulpits/speaking venues. But through this conversation I found myself getting more and more bothered. I began to project my frustration I have felt in other conversations with other people onto this conversation last night. I had bottled it up for too long, I was the 2 liter of Coke that had been dropped and shaken and it was time to pop the top…
Ahh, the relief of spilling over through a rant.
So often the guys/gals I find most jealous for the public, bold and clear proclamation of the Gospel from the pulpit–those who want speakers/preachers to really point toward Christ & the Cross through every message (which is the right thing to want, btw)–are the very same people who need to examine their own life to see if they are making private proclamations of the Gospel in one-on-one conversations.
I pray that I say this in all humility and with all sincerity (while looking in the mirror). For years I hid behind the pulpit and preached at students to get out and share their faith. I challenged the students to invite friends to their lives and begin to share the good news not just with their life, but with their words. I attempted to always preach Christ crucified in every message I spoke (even from obscure OT passages). But I didn’t talk much about my private evangelism, namely because it didn’t happen too much. It was easy to preach, harder to do.
I found myself frustrated that students weren’t getting out of their holy huddles. I saw youth group after youth group becoming 3-times-a-week gatherings for the saved, even though one or two of those meetings was geared toward the lost. I saw and heard about parents bothered that churches weren’t offering enough for their kids–so then the Youth Pastors feel like they need to do more.
In doing more, are we forsaking the lost?
Ultimately, I want students to reproduce themselves on their own campus, clubs and in their community. If I truly want that, I better be doing it myself.
Let’s stay jealous for the pulpit. Let’s call ourselves to a higher standard when preaching the Word and pointing toward the only way of Salvation. But, let’s talk about it in many 4-5 minute conversations with others instead of just 45 minutes sermons at others.