Sharing the Gospel with Teenagers
The WHAT and HOW of the Gospel are critical – but the WHY of the Gospel has become just as important.
People today are thinking, “Why would anyone want to become a Christian? Christians hate people, they are bigots, disregard science, etc.” To help teenagers follow Jesus, we are going to need to help them know why as well as what and how.
Bottom line: we need a more complete apologetic.
1. The Rational Apologetic – does the Gospel reach my mind?
There really are rational, intelligent reasons to believe in God, to believe Jesus rose from the dead, and to believe that the Bible is the Word of God. We are used to hearing that faith and science are opposites of each other when in fact modern science supports our faith now more than ever. See a couple examples here and here. In the past we have usually stopped at this point, believing that if we won the argument we would win the person. We may need to start here, or we may not have to go here at all depending on the person, but we can’t end the conversation here.
2. The Aesthetic Apologetic – does the Gospel reach my heart?
The thing about Christianity is that it not only addresses the mind, but it is compelling and magnetic to the heart as well! As author John Eldredge points out, all of the elements of the great stories that we love are found in Christianity. We love great villians, we love great heroes, we love great rescues and stories of redemption. And we love a great ending. Why? Because all of those stories borrow their beauty and power from THE Great Story, the story that God is telling. Christianity is not a list of do’s an don’ts – it’s a story that we are all living in. Furthermore, Christianity addresses the great desires of our hearts – the desire for justice, for beauty, for love, for life, for joy, for family, and more! Something that speaks to my heart as well as my mind are good reasons to believe.
3. The Relational Apologetic – does the Gospel impact my relationships?
Part of living in the postmodern era is that people don’t care as much if something is true – for many people, “Does it work?” is the more important question. We might be able to “prove” Christianity to be true but if it doesn’t change how we treat people especially those in our closest relationships what good is it? Fortunately, the heart of the Christian faith is love, forgiveness, and reconciliation. It’s all about relationships, first with God and then with others. The fruit of the Spirit, for example, has direct implications for our relationships with other people. When others can see supernatural love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self control in our relationships, that’s a powerful argument for the Christian faith. But as Paul says, if we don’t have love we’re clanging gongs and clashing cymbals. Teenagers desperately need to see this supernatural transformation in our lives and it will speak powerfully to them.
4. The Practical Apologetic – does the Gospel make the world a better place?
Finally, does Christianity make any difference in the big issues the world is facing? It’s great if my Christian faith helps me to be a better person, but what about the rest of the world? Does it help address the major crises that people all over the planet face, because if it doesn’t what good is it? In is book, “What if Jesus Had Never Been Born?” the late D. James Kennedy shares the impact that Christianity has had on the world over the past 2000 years in the areas of helping the poor, valuing life, education, government, civil liberties, science, economics, sex and family, health and medicine, arts and music, and more. Christian have done and are doing great good in the world in the name of Jesus. Teenagers need to see this and, more importantly, need equipped to participate in making the world better motivated by the love of Christ. That’s a powerful reason to follow Jesus.
I believe that, taken altogether, these four apologetics provide compelling answers for the question “Why would I want to become a Christian?” In the end, we still must choose to put our faith and trust in God. But it’s possible for us to help teenagers see that God has given us great confidence for doing so.
Travis Deans is a part time youth pastor near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Travis also equips students to lead campus ministries in their schools with Teens For Christ and is a volunteer coordinator for western Pennsylvania with the National Network of Youth Ministries. You can find him at twitter.com/tdeans, facebook.com/travisdeans, or travisdeans.weebly.com
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.