When it comes to our students, we tend to look at evangelism as an outcome. “When my teenagers grow enough in their faith, when they’re in the Word enough, when they pray enough, then they’ll be ready to share their faith.”
But students who have grown up in the church sometimes seem to miss the entire point. They may absorb the theology and character content of your lessons, but remain unfocused and unengaged in a real, passionate commitment to Christ. They become like sponges who soak in the milk of God’s Word, but never learn to be wrung out for others. As a result, their milk turns sour and they run the risk of ending up like little Pharisees who know the truth, but lack the heart and passion to live for Christ and share His truth with others.
The Trigger that Ignites Passion
So we must look for the missing trigger that will ignite a passion for Christ in our students. I believe the catalytic element missing in most discipleship strategies today is the process of helping teens adopt Christ’s cause.
What is His cause? It’s laid out for us in Luke 19:10: “… For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost,” and again in Matthew 28:19 when Jesus declares, “Therefore go and make disciples …” Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms what THE Cause of Christ is.
The first thing Jesus told His followers as He was calling them out to become His disciples was, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Clearly, a core goal behind His recruiting disciples was evangelism. Then soon after He appointed His disciples He sent them out, long before they were well-trained or highly polished—likely giving them a traumatic experience that served to motivate them to listen up and learn from Him about how to do this evangelism thing better the next time.
And His parting words before ascending into heaven were “You will be my witnesses…” You get the clear picture from Jesus’ discipleship model that from beginning to end, His intention was not just to provide His followers with a theological download of truth; He was all about making disciples who make disciples.
We should be, too.
Our teenagers are getting challenged everywhere. They get challenged in sports, at school, by their friends. About the only place teenagers don’t get challenged is in church.
But Jesus called his disciples to danger…to cause…to go on a search and rescue mission for lost souls. In Matthew 10, He warned them of the dangers they were about to face and then He unleashed them to face those dangers by sending them on a community-wide mission trip.
Much of what passes as disciple-making today is a faint echo of Jesus’ model. We have discipleship without danger. But discipleship without danger is no discipleship at all. If I’m a teenager, I have nothing to lose in a typical youth group except an hour of time. The closest I’ll get to danger is a paper cut from turning the pages of Scripture during a lesson that’s being taught.
Giving Teens Purpose
But when a teenager is put in a position of sharing their faith with their friends, everything changes. Now they have purpose. Now they have a vested interest in understanding their faith so they can explain it to others in a clear and compelling way. Now they are hungry for spiritual truth that can reach into the lives of their lost and hurting friends. Now they are motivated to pray with passion as they see that heaven and hell stand in the balance when it comes to their friends’ souls.
Jesus made spreading His message a centerpiece of His discipleship strategy. You can too, by using evangelism as the missing trigger for a vibrant, life-changing discipleship strategy. Stay tuned next time for 3 Keys to Evangelism Training.