Evangelism gets a lot of bad press these days. Proselytizing or “trying to convert people” is seen very negatively in our culture. So should we keep sharing the gospel message? Why not just be good people doing good things in the world and leave it at that?
- We are here to help people get to heaven!
At the most recent meeting of the Pittsburgh youth network (now called Pittsburgh Kids Foundation), the founder of the network shared that early in his ministry he realized his entire purpose on earth was to help people get to heaven. Nothing else mattered more because eternity lasts…forever!
On top of that, he learned that people are more likely to make this eternity-impacting decision before they graduate from high school than at any other point in their lives. And so he started challenging churches to invest more money, people, and resources into reaching the next generation, and that’s how the network started.
Honestly, it’s really that simple – when a person will spend eternity either in heaven or hell, what could be more important than helping them get to heaven?
- Nothing changes life on earth like the gospel.
Believers today correctly point out that a gospel that impacts eternity but not life here on earth is not a complete gospel; and I agree. The power of the gospel not only saves us for the future but saves us for the present!
The world around us has developed great resources for dealing with the troubles we face. We have institutions that provide help to people in need: schools provide education, doctors provide medication, the government enacts legislation, hospitals perform operations, lawyers offer litigation, companies create vocations, charities distribute donations, and on and on. But over and over, human beings demonstrate that we need something more. We need transformation of the human heart that only a relationship with Jesus Christ provides.
The ultimate answer for the violence, hate, greed, corruption, crime, war, divorce, abuse, racism, and every other ill that plagues our society is the gospel. People desperately need the change that Jesus makes in our lives.
- Evangelism is an essential part of discipleship.
Back in the 90s, many youth pastors were trained by Sonlife Ministries. Their training encouraged youth pastors to build student ministries based on the model of Jesus’ ministry.
Jesus began his ministry with a general call to anyone who would listen. In Mark 1:15, Christ announced, “Repent and believe, the Kingdom of Heaven is near!” While Jesus continued preaching to the crowds, He had a specific call for those He wanted to take deeper: “Come and follow Me” (Matthew 4:19). He invited the disciples to be with Him, learn from Him, and become like Him.
Later, wanting to take His disciples to the next level, Jesus commanded them to “Go and Tell,” to proclaim the gospel, heal the sick, and more in those places where Jesus would later go. Jesus was training them to go and do all the things He was doing.
Many of our youth ministries do a great job helping students grow in Christ (discipleship). There are many who are reaching students with the gospel message (evangelism). But our students’ walk with Christ is not complete without a challenge to go and tell (ministry training).
Most of us have students who need to be challenged, take risks, and depend on Christ more fully. In order for them to become all that Jesus is calling them to be, we must equip them, challenge them, and send them out to share their faith. Their discipleship is incomplete without this!
It’s notable that after the resurrection, Jesus took Peter aside and asked him to take care of His sheep. That would be the next level in the discipleship process: leadership. And pastoring our students includes teaching them to reproduce spiritually.
With seven billion people on the planet, followers of Jesus should be busy doing good works, being good people; but also telling the good news! The world is waiting.
Travis is the Northeast Regional Coordinator for NNYM. He and his wife Judy, live in Uniontown, PA just south of the city of Pittsburgh, Pa. Travis has pulled together a ton of resources for helping students see their schools as a mission field. Check those resources out at https://www.9monthmissiontrip.com