To move teenagers to action, we must break their hearts for the lost, just as Jesus did with His disciples. We must help paint a picture of the hell their friends are living through and the Hell they’re headed to. We must paint a picture of the Great Commission as the greatest cause, that will transform their friends’ lives both now and forever. We must turn their eyes upward to the glory of God, outward to the pain of humanity, and downward to the fires of Hell. We must help them feel compassion—which literally means “to suffer with”—for those who don’t know this Jesus who loves them. We must start with the vision and not with the strategy. If we break their hearts for the lost, the strategies will flow.
As Start with Why author Simon Sinek said, in reference to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s earth-shaking, highly influential talk: “He gave the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, not the ‘I Have a Plan’ speech.”
2. Gospel Fluency
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
Long before the apostle Paul visited Corinth, someone taught him Gospel fluency. They took this long sentence and had him memorize it word for word (“what I also received”). He took this micro-creed and mastered it. This became the basis for the Gospel that he preached everywhere. And once he mastered it, he passed it on to others (“I delivered to you”).
This whole message and process was “of first importance.” The great apostle knew that without Gospel fluency, heresy and apathy could slip in and destroy the Gospel momentum the Corinthians had experienced.
Training teenagers to master the Gospel message is “of first importance.” It becomes the micro-creed they believe and the meta-story they share with their friends.
Too many times we just jump straight to Gospel strategy (a specific method of sharing the Good News of Jesus), without making sure teenagers understand and can articulate the clear message of the Gospel.
As I often say, I don’t go into a steak restaurant for the plate. I go for the steak. But I want it served on a plate. In the same way, the Gospel is the steak, which is of primary importance. The plate is the methodology we use to serve it on. The plate doesn’t matter nearly as much as the steak.
Another way to say this is: Message first, method second. We make sure our teenagers can understand and clearly articulate the key components of the Gospel before we teach them a methodology.
Sadly, many ministries and youth groups miss this step. As a result, teenagers struggle through the icons on the bracelet, the words on the app, the tract in their hands, or the drawing on the napkin. But when they’re fluent in the Gospel, the icons, words, tracts and drawings come to life, because the Christian teenager can clearly articulate the message.
At Dare 2 Share, we train teenagers in an acrostic that provides basic Gospel fluency:
God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1–2)
Our sins separate us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds. (Genesis 4 – Malachi 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John)
Life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever. (Acts – Revelation)