It was almost twenty years ago when I was invited to go and speak at a Bible club meeting at Arvada West High School. As I walked down the hallway after the last school bell and went toward the classroom where the Bible clum was meeting, my heart was beating with excitement. I couldn’t wait to talk to these twenty or so high schoolers about the importance of evangelism.
But then it suddenly struck me. Here I was, about to talk about the importance of proclaiming the message of Jesus, and here they were, hiding in the back room of a public school classroom exercizing their religious freedom out of the line-of-site of the people who needed Jesus. I quickly made my plan, pushed open the door of the classroom and found the teenager who would be starting the meeting (the one with the guitar.) I told him that I wanted to head outside and do the Bible study under a big tree that was in the park adjacent to the school.
“But that’s where a lot of kids hang out after school” he said with a flash of fear in his eyes.
“Perfect!” I proclaimed, “Since I’m talking about evangelism it will be a great visual.”
The young man introduced me and tentatively announced that they were moving their Bible study outside. Teenagers picked up their Bibles and hesitantly followed me and the teen with the guitar toward the door.
It might as well have been The Bataan Death March. The feelings of fear were palpable and rightfully so. As I pushed open the door to the outside and looked across to the park we were headed toward I could see that it was packed with teenagers…mostly of the gnarly variety. You could hear the snickers as they saw a single file line of teenagers following a guy with a guitar and an obviously-out-of-high-school dude with a big, maroon colored NIV Study Bible under his arm.
As the group settled into a big circle under the shade of a rather large tree, the teen with the guitar quietly eeked out a worship song, strumming ever so lightly. Everyone else whisper worshipped, embarrassed by the spectacle of, well, being a spectacle. As we sat and sang I could see teenagers outside the circle pointing and laughing at us.
It was awkwardly perfect.
When it was my turn to talk I opened the Bible and shared about the urgency of evangelism. By now teenagers had gotten over the shock of being outside “among the heathen.” But the shock soon returned like a tsunami when I proclaimed, “Okay, I’m done talking about evangelism. Now we are going to do it.”
You could have heard a lady bug burp on the blades of grass below us. Finally one teen broke the silence.
“What are you talking about?” she asked in terror.
“Well, the Bible says we are to be ‘doers of the word and not hearers only’ and we just heard about the importance of sharing our faith, so now we are going to do it.”
Hearts beat harder, mouths dropped open and palms got sweaty.
I turned to the trembling teen next to me and said, “What’s your name?”
“Josh” he said, his voice trembling.
“You see those three girls over there?” I asked.
“Y, y…yes” he stuttered out.
“We are going to talk to them right now about Jesus” I proclaimed.
“BUT I KNOW THEM!!!” he declared in fear.
“Great! You can introduce me!” I said while grabbing him by the arm and bringing him to his feet.
“You all pray as Josh and I talk to these girls about Jesus.” I said to the terrified circle of teenagers who, by this time, had wished they had invited someone else to speak.
Josh looked like he was having a seizure as we walked up to these girls and began to talk to them about spiritual things. Strange thing is, they were very open to talking. Minutes later they all put their faith in Jesus. I was thrilled but then Josh snapped…in a very good way.
“THAT IS AWESOME!!!” he yelled. “Now, you’ve got to grow in your relationship with Jesus so you are going to youth group with me!!!”
“O-k-a-y…” they said, obviously a little freaked out by the normally much more subdued Josh. He then went on and on about why he was so excited that they came to faith in Christ. They were beaming with joy…and so was I. It was something to behold. A different kind of seizure was kicking in and it kept shaking with adrenalin until we got back to the middle of the Bible-study-turned-prayer-meeting circle.
“What happened?” one girl asked as she looked up from her prayer.
“It was amazing!” Josh shouted. “They all trusted in Jesus and they are all going to youth group with me this Wednesday night!”
A surge of excitement exploded throughout the group. Then, without warning, Josh looked over at a teenager about 50 yards away and yelled, “I know that kid! He’s a Mormon! I’m getting him!!!” Before I could say anything he was sprinting toward this teenager like Forrest Gump on Red Bull.
Soon teenagers were jumping up from the Bible study circle, finding friends and engaging them in spiritual conversations. Other teens were providing “air support” through prayer. But all of them were engaged.
Why? We had moved from meeting to mission, from discipleship to danger, from the modern church to the book of Acts. There is nothing that can do that like evangelism…nothing.
The question is how do we do this same thing in our churches, youth groups, men’s Bible studies and women’s fellowships every single week? The answer is that we depend on the Holy Spirit, take THE Cause of Christ seriously (Matthew 28:19) and go for it in creative and compelling ways.
We need more pounding hearts and sweaty palms in church. We need more seizures. We need more mission and less meetings.
It’s time we become doers of the Word and not hearers only. Don’t you agree?