Just a few days ago, I posted a tweet that got a bunch of online traction. Here’s the tweet:
I was surprised at the number of comments, retweets, and likes it got. To me, the tweet didn’t seem that profound. But as I think about why it may have struck such a nerve, I’m convinced it’s because failing to motivate and equip our teens in evangelism is a huge miss in the typical discipleship strategy.
The average Christian high school senior is not motivated, equipped, or expected to actively share the Gospel. No wonder so many abandon their faith after high school! They have no skin in the game.
Evangelism puts teenagers in a situation where they’re forced to rely on God. It also causes them to “count the cost” of being a follower of Jesus (Luke 14:25-35) because to share the Gospel, especially with a friend, could mean losing that friendship. And that very risk is a huge “counting of the cost” of what it means to be a follower of Christ in a post-Christian culture.
With this as a backdrop, let me give you a brief overview of what I mean by Gospel urgency, fluency, and strategy. Along the way, I’ll point to a few helpful resources for students, youth leaders, and parents alike to improve in these three areas.
1. Gospel Urgency
“…snatch others from the fire and save them.” Jude 23
There is a Hell that unbelievers are headed to and going through apart from Jesus. Teenagers need reminded of this. We, as believers, are the redemptive hands of God, to rescue them from the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:11-15).
I’ll never forget a teenage girl who approached me after I preached at a Dare 2 Share event about the reality of Hell. She asked me, “Why has my youth pastor never talked to me about Hell?” With tears in her eyes, she explained that she had no clue that her friends were going to suffer God’s wrath forever in the flames of Hell someday unless they heard and believed the Good News of Jesus.
Although I can’t answer why her youth leader never told her, I can ask you a similar question: Have you talked to your teenagers about the reality of Hell, the hope of Heaven, and the power of the Gospel to rescue their friends from the eternal consequences of sin?
But it’s not just the Hell they’re headed to that teenagers need rescued from—it’s also the “hell” they may be going through right now apart from a relationship with Christ. Teen suicide, anxiety, drug use, and depression among teenagers is skyrocketing. They need snatched, not just from the flames of Hell someday, but from pain, addiction, and hopelessness today.
In Matthew 9:35, we read about how Jesus felt about the crowds around Him: “When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” May we learn to help our teenagers see their lost peers through the eyes of Jesus!
Start with Gospel urgency.
2. Gospel Fluency
“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” Romans 1:16
So what is this Gospel that both we and our teenagers should not be ashamed of? It’s a simple message of hope. Somehow, this message is infused with the power of God to rescue the lost from the power and penalty of sin.
I don’t know how God infused a stick (Moses’s staff) with enough divine power to rescue the Israelites by parting the Red Sea, but He did. I don’t know how God infused a simple message, the Gospel, with enough divine power to rescue the lost from sin, but He did.
Our teenagers must learn how to be fluent in the most powerful message in the history of humanity: the Gospel.
Gospel fluency is the ability to articulate the whole story of the Gospel in a clear, cogent, and compelling way. At Dare 2 Share we use an acrostic that spells out G.O.S.P.E.L. It goes like this:
I’ve met people who were trained at our Dare 2 Share conferences decades ago (and who are now full grown adults) who can still articulate the G.O.S.P.E.L. acrostic. That means they’re ready to share the Good News of Jesus anytime, anywhere, with anyone.
Are you? Are your teenagers?
For help in equipping your teenagers in G.O.S.P.E.L. fluency, go here and download our Life in 6 Words curriculum for free! Here’s a quick preview:
3. Gospel Strategy
“As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures.” Acts 17:2
Paul had a strategy for reaching his fellow Jews and God-fearing Gentiles for Christ. He went into the Jewish synagogues and used the Old Testament to share the Gospel.
Your teenagers need a strategy too. That strategy must start with prayer. Challenge your teenagers to pray for their lost friends, classmates, teammates, and family members by name. Then they must care for them by loving them, listening to them, and serving them like Jesus. And, finally, they must share the message of Jesus—out loud with words.
At Dare 2 Share, we highly recommend the free Life in 6 Words app as a great way for teenagers to get started. It has a place where they can input the names of their friends into what we call a “Cause Circle” and be regularly prompted to pray for them.
The centerpiece of the app is a simple way for teens to share the Gospel with their friends by swiping through the G.O.S.P.E.L. sharing screens and explaining each point as they go. As I often tell teenagers: “If you can swipe and read, you can share the Gospel using the Life in 6 Words app.”
Here’s a short video that shows even more of the app’s amazing functionality:
Perhaps you have another strategy for teenagers sharing their faith. Great! Use it! The methodology doesn’t matter nearly as much as the clarity of the message.
Teenagers need to have a burning Gospel urgency, basic Gospel fluency, and a practical Gospel strategy if they’re going to be ready to make a difference now and after they graduate from high school. I hope these tools and recommendations will help you equip your teenagers more effectively.
As an ending thought, I’d encourage you to take a look at Dare 2 Share’s weeklong summer student leadership training called Lead THE Cause. It’s highly effective at training both teenagers and youth leaders in these three keys to effective evangelism.