I try to share the gospel as often as I can. Sometimes it’s with individual students. Sometimes it’s on a special bring-a-friend-to-hear-the-gospel night. Sometimes it’s a tag-on to another message. The point is, I’m usually looking for opportunities to share the gospel. I try to pay attention to potential students who need the opportunity to respond to Jesus’ invitation to enter into a relationship with him.
Come to think of it, I probably have certain assumptions that lead me to this approach to ministry. I’ll try to explain them here.
- My primary task is to make new disciples which means first sharing the gospel every opportunity I have.
- I don’t have to wait till just the right moment to share the gospel. It doesn’t have to be the most optimum time when the person hearing it is most ready to respond to it. I can share it anytime.
- Kids will bring to church their friends who aren’t Christians if they themselves are excited about going. There will always be kids in our group who need to hear the gospel.
- I don’t need to follow the exact same formula each time. When I read about the Woman at the Well, the Rich Young Man, Zachaeus, Nicodemus, and others who had encounters with Jesus, I notice that his message to them was slightly different each time. The metaphors he used, the challenge he gave, etc.,….they were different each time.
- Every biblical lesson has a natural connection to the gospel. I can teach the bible to Christian students and still share the gospel with those who aren’t. I think of Charles Spurgeon’s metaphor of a “beeline to the Cross” as pointed out by Rick Lawrence in his recent book “Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry.” You can share the gospel out of pretty much any biblical lesson. Teaching on spiritual gifts? The Spirit can empower you with this wonderful gift only after you’ve put your faith in Jesus. Teaching on listening to the voice of God? Jesus says my sheep hear my voice. Have you become one of Jesus’ sheep yet? Teaching on loneliness? Jesus wants to be with you…are you ready to be with him? (These are, of course, over-simplified statements for the purpose of this post.)
- It’s okay to share the gospel in a crowd. In fact, my understanding is that most conversions happen in a crowd or group. It doesn’t have to be person-to-person friendship evangelism (which takes so much time and work and in the end seems to rarely prove fruitful. I’d rather train students to do the follow-up than expect them to be the ones to share the gospel.)
Operating with these assumptions, we’ve shared the gospel as often as we can in a number of creative ways. The result is an average of about 20 kids putting their faith in Christ each school year. This year we’ve had more than 20 already.
But now the challenge is the follow up. And, you know, that’s the more difficult part. It’s even more difficult for a growing ministry. As our ministry has grown, the dynamics have changed and the effectiveness of our follow up strategies have changed. We can’t follow up using the same methods we did when we were smaller. We have to change and adapt. Unfortunately, it can be quite exhausting having to constantly adapt your strategies and methods. But, that’s for another post.
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