Repent! Turn or burn! Try or fry!
Does the word evangelism dredge up all sorts of negative thoughts and emotions for your students? Does their mind go to street-corner preachers shouting into bullhorns or obnoxious, plastic TV preachers who can seem like their more into fundraising than soul-saving?
No wonder we can feel a bit phobic about evangelism…
Still, Jesus made it clear that He came to seek and save the lost, and He’s charged us with spreading His message to those who don’t know Him. Sharing the gospel is not optional simply because some fringe lunatics have given evangelism a bad name. It’s something we’re commanded to be about until Jesus’ return.
In the last energize, we looked at reasons #1 (Fear) and #2 (Our “Live and Let Live” Culture) for being evangephobic. Let’s unpack another top reason why our students often come to this missional call reluctantly: They bring an “Anybody but me!” attitude .
Reason #3: Anybody But Me!
It’s not my job.
Many of us don’t see the importance of sharing our faith because we think evangelism is someone else’s job. It’s the senior pastor’s job or something the Young Life guy gets paid to do. Or maybe the little old ladies at church brush up against it with their sock drives for foreign missionaries.
It’s just not part of our “cool youth leader” repertoire—nor does it fit in nicely with our teens’ quests for admission to the popular crowd at school.
But there’s no getting away from the bare-faced reality that Jesus has called us to do this! It can’t get much plainer that his word in John 20:21: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
Consider the model God’s provided for us in the 1st century church. One of the reasons the gospel spread like wildfire in the book of Acts was because it spread relationally. And get this, modern sociological research is finally catching up with this profound principle that was on full display in the early church.
Did you know that recent research shows that a friend has one hundred times more influence on another friend than a stranger does? With prayer and a little preparation, it’s clear that you and your teenagers can play a critical role—perhaps the most critical role—in reaching your own circles of influence for Jesus.
In fact, I believe God has purposefully planted each of us in our circles so we can reach into our friends’ lives with Jesus’ love and message.
When we bring God up in conversation with our friends, we are already speaking in the context of a caring relationship. We know our friends’ needs, hurts and longings and have insights which can help us reach deeply into our friends’ souls.
That’s why a loving, caring, Spirit-empowered Christian friend is the ultimate antidote for the belligerent bullhorn evangelist image.
Lead the Way Relationally
There are dozens of ways for you and your students to step out in the midst of their evangephobia—
Write a letter, email or Facebook post. Pick up the phone. Invite a friend for coffee. Share a video link. Regardless of the approach each of you ends up choosing, pray, make a plan and take one concrete step this week to start a spiritual conversation with a friend, neighbor, relative or coworker who needs Jesus.
Make sure you’re working on this yourself. After all, it’s difficult to effectively lead your teenagers where you’ve not gone yourself. You don’t have to be an evangelism expert, just one step ahead of your students! So get out there in the gritty streets and start the conversation.
Share with your youth group what you tried this week, whether it worked well or not. Then challenge them to take a first step with one of their own friends.
They can pray through their contact list or Facebook friends roster to help them identify who God has put in their circle of influence that needs to know more about Jesus. If your students need help explaining the gospel to a friend, encourage them to share the Life in 6 Words: The GOSPEL video with a friend.