This is a question that has plagued me from the time I was a teenager (a long time ago in a far away galaxy). Of course there are the obvious reasons of fear, peer pressure and not knowing what to say. But, after dealing with tens of thousands of teenagers across the nation at our Dare 2 Share conferences, I’m convinced there is another more fundamental, unspoken reason why teens don’t share Jesus more often:
THEY ARE NOT SEEING IT MODELED BY CHRISTIAN ADULTS
But we adults must face the stark reality. We are guilty of silence to the 1st degree. Ever since the excellent book by Joe Aldrich Lifestyle Evangelism came out adults have used the “I’ll just live a godly life and wait for people to ask me about Jesus” get-out-of-jail-free card for evangelism. What’s funny is that Joe’s book doesn’t communicate that at all. All he is saying is that we need to live the message as loudly as we are proclaiming it. But I think many people assumed a message of silent incarnation instead of verbal proclamation just from reading the title of the book.
What’s weird is that the church at large talks about evangelism all the time. It’s on our ministry websites, church brochures and emblazoned in slogans that are hung up in our foyers (some call it a “Narthax” instead of a “foyer” but Narthax sounds like part of an ant’s body to me.) Slogans like, “To know Christ and to make him known” and “To advance the gospel to the ends of the earth” fill our foyers, sermons and church chatter.
Sounds good right?
The problem is that, in the average church, it’s not getting done. The growth of the typical church comes from transfer growth (aka “sheep swapping from one church to the next”) not new conversion growth. According to one study done by Bill Hull over a decade ago the average church in America sees less than two converts to Christ per year.
Churches hang up pictures of missionaries that they are supporting across the world (a good thing) but I think that this often ends up providing an unintentional absolution of the church people and leadership of having to share the gospel themselves (a bad thing.)
Teens have, what I call, a built in “Bologna Barometer”. They hear us adults talk about evangelism and then they watch us not do it. They see straight through the hyper-hypocrisy and choose not to buy into it. No wonder many of our teens are rebelling! They hear our lip service to the Great Commission and watch our rebellion against it (through our silence). No wonder many teens are choosing another path.
If a teen does start sharing Jesus there is often a pat-on-the-head “Isn’t that nice?” patronizing tone that comes from some of the spiritually “mature” adults in the church. But down deep inside they wish that these teens would just shut up and embrace the church-wide conformity of silence.
That’s why we’ve made a shift in our philosophy at Dare 2 Share. We are now starting to equip our adult donors, prayer warriors and volunteers or any interested adult to share their faith. I’m tired of providing absolution (I’m not even Catholic!) to adults by letting them write checks because they believe in what we are doing. I want to know what they are doing to advance the cause of Jesus and equip them to do it (and then we’ll gladly receive their checks…believe me!!!) But now their donation will not just to be to accomplish the work we (at Dare 2 Share) our doing, but what we (the donor and Dare 2 Share) are doing together.
In this sense, Dare 2 Share moves from a noun to a verb. Dare 2 Share is something that we (adult, teen and organization) do and advance prayerfully and financially together!
If you are a teen pray with me for the Christian adults in America to begin sharing their faith. Wouldn’t it be great if teens and adults alike were advancing the message of Jesus?