I recently ran into my good friends from Dare 2 Share; they were preparing to teach “Unleashing THE Cause” to a group of Youth Leaders who had gathered for this specific training. In our brief chit-chat, while attendees began to populate the seats, we were able to discuss one of the biggest issues organizations like D2S and Youthmark face–Evangelism is just not a popular subject, in fact, one may say it is a very unpopular concept. I honestly had someone write to me recently speaking about Youthmark Mission Venture training materials, the comment “this stuff is just too evangelistic.” Thank you.
- The Worship concert will draw a huge crowd, even in a bad economy.
- The Class on “Manorexia” or the one on “Why He likes He” will both be packed.
- The Discussion group gathered for a conversation about Water will be buzzing.
- Evangelism… wait… was that a cricket I heard?
I have absolutely NO problem with the subjects listed above. In fact, if at a conference, I would be very interested in attending each of these. I believe in worship, educating myself in issues of counseling and sexuality and certainly believe we had better look for ways to reach the needs of the worlds hungry, poor and orphaned.
Knowing that I certainly have more (Christian) adults reading my blog than I do high school (or younger) students, I will start by saying THIS BLOG POST IS FOR YOU!
Specifically, to the Christian… evangelism may not be your gift, however, it is your calling (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19-20, 2 Timothy 4:5, Mark 6:7, 12, etc.).
I have the privilege of working with youth and training them for what we call “Mission51” –that is, training for the 51 weeks of life outside the mission. Yes, Youthmark provides top-notch mission ventures, but our long-term sustainability as a ministry and our life-blood is that each participant be committed to living out and sharing about Jesus for EVERY week of his or her life!
I believe that teens should be the best evangelists we have. Wait? Doesn’t that contradict what I said above? Didn’t I say this blog was for adults?
Let me repeat, I do believe teens should be the best evangelists we have in America.
- They say, 80% of Christians in the U.S. trusted in Jesus at the age of 18 or younger.
- It is also proven that nationals reach nationals far more effectively than a person from a different culture.
Therefore, I surmise, American teens are our best hope of reaching the lost in America.
Instead of us putting this on them (teens) and expecting them to do it, let’s look at three reasons they aren’t doing it.
- They fear they don’t have the right words to say (I wouldn’t know what to say if someone asked me about salvation).
- They fear rejection (I don’t want this person to hate or reject me)
- They have never had it modeled (why should I do it, you’re not)
Evangelism… I must admit, I’m not a big fan of the word itself. However, I am HUGE fan of the scriptural mandate and the author of said mandate. The reason I am not a fan is because so many have soiled the name, “evangelized” with the wrong message (namely, works righteousness) and de-graced the beautiful Gospel of Jesus.
However, these above three reasons for non-evangelism remain, and today’s “Three-For-Thursday” give the three ways YOU (Christian Adult) can help a teen become a better evangelist.
- Find someone YOUR AGE and share the Good News. What if we, those of us aged 19-99 (yep, I think you’re exempt at 100… joking of course), took the call from Jesus seriously and we engaged in evangelism at a peer level? We need to be in the business of peer-to-peer evangelism. You’ll probably discover the three reasons teens aren’t doing it are the very reason you have chosen not to obey as well.
- Discover the best way for you to share your faith. In order to discover something of this nature, you’ll find that you actually have to try it more than once. Some really like the Four Spiritual Laws. Others are really good at sharing the Romans Road; I know a number of people who like Dare 2 Share’s G.O.S.P.E.L. acrostic. Me? I’m developing a methodology for Youthmark, however, I will say that I firmly believe in a relational evangelism model that includes me sharing not just my story, but God’s story as well. To be honest, I think ANY of the above (and many others) are great tools, but the key– you need to figure out how to relationally engage (and love) people and look for entry points into their life so that you can share the greatest news ever–Jesus dying on the cross and rising again to provide THE way of salvation for those who place their trust in Him. With repetition you will discover the way you are most comfortable and confident in sharing your faith.
- Make evangelism be only one part of the real call… DISCIPLESHIP. We are not called to just “evangelize” all nations, we are called to “make disciples.” This simply means that we are to spiritually nurture others to maturity in Christ. If a person doesn’t know Jesus, we must first evangelize in order to nurture. So, as you work on number one and two above, understand that you are called not to have great words to say as an evangelist, but to be a person of discipleship. Thank the Lord for the church, we are not alone in discipleship, we get to share in this journey… however, you, as an individual are called to do the work of an evangelist!
Notice that none of the above even deal with direct adult-to-teen training. I am just more convinced today that the real issue for why students are not doing evangelism is that they have not had it modeled (reason #3 listed above as to why they aren’t sharing).
Adults, as we discover the words to say, as we begin to understand that the rejection we face is actually a person rejecting Christ (not us), we will then be able to have voice with a teen. We will be able to talk about our “success” stories in evangelism… by the way, success in evangelism is just about being faithful with sharing, the Holy Spirit gets to do the work of saving!
Let’s be successful so that our best evangelists will experience great success in the future!