What Students Need To Know About Sharing Their Faith
Recently I was speaking to a youth pastor and the subject of summer camp came up. We talked about what a great experience he always had at a specific camp. But then, he told me he was considering changing camps to one that offered students the chance to actually engage in evangelism within the community in which the camp was located.
He felt it would be a good experience for his students, and one that would help them feel a little uncomfortable . . . in a good way!
There's been a lot made lately about the waning tendencies of teenagers to openly share their faith. (We blogged about it here.) Several weeks ago I wrote a post about what I thought were the barriers preventing teenagers to engage more openly in evangelism. I have continued to think about this concept. My discussion with the youth pastor wanting to provide more opportunities for his students to talk about their faith got me thinking some more . . . Then, I ran across this quote by Geoffrey Thomas and my thoughts crystallized some:
The only New Testament precedents for spreading the gospel are godly living, praying and boldly speaking.
It's been my experience that one of the reasons students (and adults) don't share their faith is that they feel ill equipped to do so. To me, this is very frustrating. After all, what Thomas' quote speaks to is the fact that we, like the early Christ-followers, have every resource we need to boldly speak about our faith supplied in God's Word and our personal salvation experience. That's it.
When I look at the biblical examples of people speaking to the truth of Christ, it seems like there are three common elements present:
A foundation of scriptural knowledge from which to boldly proclaim Christ
A sincere and complete grasp of the great spiritual exchange that takes place when a person gains the salvation Christ offers
A taking advantage of the opportunity to speak of Christ and His truth
In other words, you have to know who Christ is according to His Word, you have to know personally what He does in the life of a sinner, and you have to actually speak up when you have the chance. It really is that simple. So why do we muddy the waters?
Over the years, I have seen a million different techniques, trinkets, mnemonics, processes, programs, and philosophies on how to do evangelism. You have, too. The 4 Spiritual Laws. Three-Story Evangelism. F.A.I.T.H. The Net. The Evangecube!
Now, none of these are inherently wrong. In fact, they have been effective, to some extent. Each of these techniques and guides were developed as a guideline or a "hook" to help the Christ-follower have a handle for sharing his or her faith. But, I wonder if all the reliance on a guideline (at best) or a gimmick (at worst) has taken some of the power out of the reliance on our personal salvation experience with the God of the Bible? Isn't the foundation of the Gospel as simple as John 1:14?
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
As youth workers, we have an absolute burden to help our students know the Bible, and powerfully apply its truths in their lives. Part of that call is devoting ourselves to speaking of Christ to those students who do not know His story, and equipping and CHALLENGING our students to do the same. Kudos to my new youth minister friend who is committed to providing opportunities for his students to be speaking Christ to the lost.
What can you do in your ministry to provide similar opportunities?