Evangelism Myth #16: Teenagers are too immature to be effective in carrying the gospel to others.
No doubt about it. Teenagers can be emotional, impulsive, unfocused, risk-taking bundles of hormones. But that doesn’t mean God doesn’t delight in using them to share His message and advance His cause. In fact, I would contend that many of those stereotypical teenage traits might actually make teens more effective at sharing their faith than your typical straight-laced, pew-sitting, politically correct adult believer. Think of it like this:
- Emotional – Effective faith sharing is enhanced by a genuine passion for the lost.
- Impulsive – Many adult believers spend weeks, months and even years thinking about sharing their faith with someone, and may never get around to actually doing it.
- Unfocused – Most teenagers are going a hundred different directions at the same time. They have a multitude of friends and acquaintances because they still have a wide range of interests and a wide circle of interaction with non-believers as a result of their classes and extracurricular activities. This wide social reach is a real advantage when it comes to evangelism because they don’t live in a “Christian ghetto.”
- Risk-taking – All of us put our popularity on the line whenever we speak of Jesus with a non-believer. The very nature of evangelism requires us to be risk-takers.
Teenagers in the Bible
Have you ever noticed that throughout Scripture God seems somewhat determined when it comes to using young people to accomplish some of His most significant purposes? He used a teenaged Jewish girl named Esther to save a nation from certain destruction. He used Josiah, the boy King, to launch a national revival. He used a shepherd boy named David to defeat a giant and trigger a significant military victory. He used Jeremiah, the young prophet, to bring down his wrath on a disobedient nation.
In Jeremiah 1:6-7 the young prophet wrote about his own inhibitions about God using him in such a significant way at such a young age, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth. But the Lord said to me: ‘Do not say, I am a youth. For you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.’”
It seems that God specializes in using the really young or the really old or the really poor or the really unlikely…and here’s His elegant explanation for why:
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
Using the Unlikely to Accomplish His Purposes
As you seek to debunk e-myth #16 in your ministry and at your church, what are the implications? Simply this, if God has a propensity to choose to use the unlikely to advance His message and mission, then you should too! So gather your youth ministry adult volunteers, student leaders or perhaps even your entire church staff and talk about the implications at your church. Here are some discussion points to get your conversation going:
- We all know that the vast majority of people who come to Christ do so before the age of 18. So why aren’t we investing more to reach that demographic? What can we do to change that?
- Not only are the young more open, they are also more able to spread the gospel. Teenagers can take the gospel further faster than adults. The average teenager has at least 100 online and face-to-face friends and they have a hundred times more influence on those friends than a stranger has! How can we encourage teenagers to share Jesus in their webs of relationships?
- If teenagers can be inspired, equipped and unleashed to share the gospel in a clear and compelling way, our communities can be reached for Christ. What can you do to call them and coach them to share the gospel? What can you do to challenge them?
- What can you do to make prayer more of a priority when it comes to your teenagers’ outreach efforts?
Teenagers are NOT the church of tomorrow, but the church of today. As soon as they believe in Christ they are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ and are given a gift to use and a message to preach. They don’t become members of the church when they can tithe big and serve on a committee, but when they believe in Jesus. The future is not when these teenagers grow up. The future is when these teenagers show up.
The future is now!
If you need help (training and resources) mobilizing teenagers in your world for THE Cause of Christ go to www.dare2share.org and click away. You’ll find thousands of free articles, devos and tools as well as the Follow Tour teen training conference and our Dare 2 Share curriculum and books.
What do you think? Are teenagers equipped to share their faith? Are teenagers’ gifts being cultivated effectively in today’s churches or are they being overlooked?