As the founder of Dare 2 Share, I’ve been blessed to mobilize millions of teenagers across America and around the world to share the Gospel. I’ve witnessed the impact of teens reaching other teens with the Gospel—not just on the teenagers who come to faith but also on the Christian teenagers who share with them.
As I’ve told youth leaders again and again: “If you want to get your teenagers to grow, then you’ve got to get them to go.”
But nothing gives you a front-row seat to true impact like being a parent of teenagers who are actively sharing their faith. Over the last eight years, I’ve watched how evangelism has affected, and continues to affect, my kids—now ages 18 and 21.
As a dad, I’ve noticed six surprising ways evangelism helps teenagers mature.
1. Improves their communication on a social level.
“‘Alas, Sovereign LORD,’ I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am too young.’ But the LORD said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am too young.” You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 1:6-8
Many experts believe Jeremiah was in his teens or early 20s when he got this call to be a prophet of God. But, no matter his age, God commanded him to go and preach. The biblical books of Jeremiah and Lamentations are samples of what a “sent” young person can articulate when filled with the power and presence of God.
From early on, my son and daughter were equipped to share the Gospel. Articulating it consistently has helped them improve their communication skills as they interact with others.
2. Increases their confidence on a personal level.
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13
Although Peter was an adult when he began to follow Jesus, John was most likely a teenager. The Holy Spirit infused both of these men with divine confidence when they needed to articulate the Gospel clearly.
I’ve seen this with both of my kids, but especially with my daughter Kailey. She’s naturally shy and quiet, but over the years, I’ve seen her come more and more out of her shell. Today, she’s leading the way spiritually at the Christian school she attends, including as the school’s worship leader. And I credit evangelism, combined with the filling of the Holy Spirit, for this remarkable change.
The last Saturday of every month, we try to participate in a global initiative called Go Share Day. My daughter gets a group of her friends together, and we go out to share the Gospel. One day earlier this year, we went to the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver. I’ll never forget my daughter and her friends approaching one homeless man to engage him in a Gospel conversation. He turned his head away from them in shame and started screaming, “Leave! God will never accept me! Please leave!” It was then I saw the look of holy determination in my daughter’s eyes. She gently said, “No. We will not leave until you hear how much God loves you.” I could see the tears begin to flow down their cheeks, as my daughter and her friends waited for him to turn toward them and engage.
He eventually did.
In that moment, I realized that all these years of sharing the Gospel and depending on the Spirit to give her boldness had transformed her from a shy follower into a bold leader.
3. Accelerates their processing ability on a cognitive level.
“‘The Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.’” Luke 12:12
When teenagers are put in a position where they’re trusting in the Lord to give them the right words to say, especially when people want to argue, it accelerates their ability to process information on the spot.
This is seen very clearly on an academic level when it comes to debating. High school debate class sharpens adolescent mental acuity.
So does evangelism. When people ask questions of Christian teenagers, it forces them to depend on God and scroll their mind for the answers to these questions.
My son has been sharing his faith from the time he was little. He knows what he believes and why he believes it, because he’s had so many Gospel conversations with people of different faiths.
4. Deepens their faith on a spiritual level.
“‘Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts—no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep.’” Matthew 10:9-10
When Jesus sent out his mostly teenaged disciples to evangelize, he sent them out with no backup plan. They didn’t have extra money or extra clothes or even the protection of a staff to fight off wild animals or thieves.
Jesus wanted them to go out in faith and preach the Gospel from village to village, depending only on the Holy Spirit. And that’s exactly what they did.
As a result, their faith deepened. When they witnessed all that God did through them, they couldn’t wait to tell Jesus (Luke 10:17-19).
At Dare 2 Share, we’ve been inspiring, equipping, and sending teenagers out to share the Gospel for over 30 years. Doing an outreach and coming back to share stories is key to what makes our training events work. One thing I can tell you for sure is that, for the vast majority of teenagers who attend these events, going out to share the Gospel deepens their faith.
5. Strengthens their resolve on a volitional level.
“‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’” Matthew 5:11-12
I’ll never forget teenagers coming back from outreach discouraged during one of our very first Dare 2 Share training events. I asked some of the teenagers (there were only 75 in the room) why they were discouraged. They answered: “Because we got rejected.”
I shot back with Matthew 5:11-12 and introduced them to the concept of graduating from “PU” or “Persecution University.” I reminded them of how Jesus said we should respond to rejection: He told us to “rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven….”
To this day, teenagers at Dare 2 Share events get fired up at the thought of experiencing rejection for the sake of Christ. I always remind them to make sure that if they’re getting rejected, it’s not because they were obnoxious or antagonistic as they shared their faith, but because they gently and lovingly shared the Gospel.
I’ve seen graduation from PU strengthen the resolve of my own kids as well.
6. Matures their choices on a behavioral level.
“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the Gospel.” Philippians 1:27
When teenagers share their faith, they are, in a sense, asking their friends to hold them accountable. They’re essentially saying: “This is what I believe; now make sure I live up to it.”
My son went through a time of rebellion, during which his faith-sharing weakened. During several months when he was secretly vaping and drinking, I noticed a drop in his evangelistic fervor. While I didn’t know about his drinking (until he confessed later on in a dramatic way), I did notice that his personal evangelism had fizzled out.
It wasn’t until after his dramatic repentance and restoration (read about that here) that his enthusiasm for evangelism was fully restored. I’m guessing that because he wasn’t living the Gospel, he didn’t want to feel like a hypocrite by giving the Gospel.
Today he wants to launch a movement in California that mobilizes teenagers to live and give the Gospel!
Evangelism can have massive impact on teenagers on many levels: socially, cognitively, emotionally and, especially, personally.
Get your teenagers sharing the Gospel right away. If you struggle with where to start, we, at Dare 2 Share, can help.