Our teenagers inhabit a world in which spiritual beliefs are fluid and worldviews often get mixed and mashed together like a smoothie in a blender. Teenagers (and adults) increasingly like their spirituality customized to their personal taste—like a God-made-in-your-own-image smorgasbord.
It’s a tempting proposition—to simply believe God’s exactly the way you want Him to be. But we’re called to call our teenagers to something better: a real relationship with the Creator of the universe, who loves them deeply but meets them on His terms—which are way better than anything we could manufacture. We encourage you to use this summer to deepen their relationship with their Creator and teach them to point others to Him as well.Our teenagers inhabit a world where spiritual beliefs are fluid and truth is a four-letter word. Click To Tweet
Navigating the Shifting Terrain
Try This! ❯
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His Kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 2 Timothy 4:1-2
With this verse as your benchmark, use the questions at the end of this article to take inventory of how prepared your teens are to engage their peers who have different worldviews. Then hatch a plan for the summer that moves your ministry forward.
The first step is to make sure your students fully grasp the core message of the Gospel. Jesus said:
‘I am THE way and THE truth and THE life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ John 14:6
It’s critical to help your students develop both the loving concern and the gritty determination needed to unashamedly stand in that truth as they seek to help their unreached friends bump into Jesus.
How can you prepare them for these kinds of challenging conversations?
Ask – Admire – Admit
First, encourage your teens to adopt an approach we call Ask – Admire – Admit. Teach them to first dig deep by asking questions to learn more about their friends’ stories, struggles, and beliefs—to get to the emotional core of their worldview. Coach your students to take the time to truly listen to what their friends really believe. When Paul tells Timothy to “preach the Word,” he tells him to do so “…with great patience and careful instruction,” because love is our ultimate apologetic. A good way your students can show love in a conversation is to find something they can admire about what their friend believes—perhaps their dedication to their religion or the way they’ve thought through spiritual questions. This doesn’t mean they’re agreeing with them—rather, they’re seeking to build a bridge. Lastly, have your student admit that they need Jesus too, and share their testimony and the Gospel.
Some of your students may not feel ready for these kinds of spiritual conversations. They may feel like they should have all the answers to all the tough questions before they engage. Let them know they don’t need to know it all, because they know the One who does—.Jesus Christ. So challenge them to jump into spiritual conversations. And if they get stumped, encourage them to go to gotquestions.org or come to you. If you don’t know the answers either, just tell your teens, “I don’t know, but let’s find out together.” Then do it!
Rely on Divine Power
Second, challenge your teens to share the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 1:16 says:
I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.
Did you catch that? The Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. So encourage and equip your teenagers to “admit” their need for a Savior and talk about the Gospel, regardless of where their friends are coming from. Just remind them to listen as much as they talk!
As the school year ramps down, your students’ free time and availability ramp up. So don’t let a “summer slack-off” mindset keep you from making the most this summer window when students have more time to kick back and talk about life and purpose and God and faith. Take inventory of where you and your teens are at using 2 Timothy 4:1-2 as your benchmark and develop a plan for the summer that moves your Gospel Advancing ministry forward. Remember that this verse doesn’t apply just to you as a youth leader. It applies to all disciples of Jesus—including your students!
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His Kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 2 Timothy 4:1-2
- Are your teens prepared to share the Gospel and provide “careful instruction” to their friends about how to put their trust in Christ? (For help, check out Takeoff to Touchdown: How to navigate a Gospel conversation.)
- Do they know how to initiate spiritual conversations? (Try Salt: Creating Thirst.)
- Have you coached them on how to respond to their friends with “great patience”? (Check out the free Ask – Admire – Admit video.)
- How’s your own reservoir of “great patience” holding up these days? (Read this article for encouragement and practical help.)
- Do the words “careful instruction” fit your teaching approach? Are your own teaching materials thoughtfully and carefully prepared to help your students share their faith and live out THE Cause of Christ? (For help, download Shine.)
These are times of great challenge and opportunity when it comes to ministering to youth, so we encourage you to make the most of your summer!