“Evangelical, evangelism, evangelistic.” Do these words inspire you or make you cringe?
Many youth leaders feel guilty, inadequate or overwhelmed with just the mention of the e-word. And for some, it carries such a negative connotation that they ignore it, tip-toe around it or just sweep it under the rug.
But I say it’s time to take back this lost ground and reclaim this noble, missional word!
Redeeming the e-Word
Being Christ’s ambassadors for the life-giving message of the gospel is a privilege and a high calling! Scripture lays it out so eloquently for us. There are some passages that make my heart pound every time I read them:
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
Yet, somehow, we’ve come to this place where many of us we miss it—we ignore it or have somehow come to a place where we believe that it’s not our role and we don’t really have to do it.
Youth Ministry e-myths
How do we get back on track?
I believe the cringe-factor that “evangelism” sometimes triggers, has left youth ministry with a variety of “e-myth” distortions when it comes to sharing the Good News and training others to do so, as well. Distortions that burden us, distract us and sometimes just plain, trip us up.
So in the next few issues of energize we’re going to take a look at some of the e-myths that have clouded our view of this emotion-charged aspect of ministry. I challenge you to take a look at the following list and thoughtfully consider whether or not you agree or disagree with each of these statements.
- I am the one responsible for leading teenagers to Christ.
- Preach the gospel. Use words if necessary.
- My teens will share the gospel more if they become spiritually mature first.
- Of course evangelism is a priority. I do a monthly (or quarterly) outreach meeting.
- My primary responsibility is discipleship, not evangelism.
- Most of my teenagers are home-schooled so I can’t mobilize them for evangelism.
- The gospel is not a set of propositions.
- Technology, sports and extracurricular activities are the enemies of evangelism.
- Because God is in charge of salvation we don’t need to go overboard with urgency.
- Postmodern teenagers aren’t interested in conversations about the gospel.
- We need to adjust the gospel message to make it more appealing to a postmodern generation.
- Social justice is evangelism.
- Teenagers don’t respond to hellfire and brimstone.
- Evangelism is useless because postmodern teenagers don’t believe in absolute truth.
- The gospel only works in the context of a relationship.
Then ask yourself perhaps the most challenging question of all: Does the way you’re actually doing youth ministry indicate that you’ve knowingly or unknowingly bought into one or more of these e-myths?
Think about it.
I’ll be picking a handful of these e-myths to explore further in the coming weeks, so I encourage you to stay tuned. But be forewarned. Addressing these myths may step on some toes and may even make some of you mad. But it’s not because I want to be controversial. I just want to see us re-engage with the high calling we have as ambassadors for Christ. I want to see the e-word given its proper due.