Go online and look at the vast array of youth ministry curriculum available. You’ll see all sorts of subjects. They range from building a healthy self-image to conquering anxiety. But you’ll see little on the subject of hell.
Maybe our grandparents or great-grandparents had too much hell and brimstone preaching. And yes, balance and compassion are key to how we communicate these truths. But this generation needs to know what’s at stake for people who die without Jesus.
Most youth leaders don’t hold back when it comes to talking about Jesus. They talk about him all the time, as well they should! But a primary subject Jesus preached was hell and brimstone. And far too many youth leaders avoid the subject Jesus refused to avoid.
A Scriptural Look at the Reality of Hell
If you read the Gospels, you’ll see that Jesus talked often about the reality of hell. He described it in exacting and terrifying detail. As a matter of fact, he referred to hell more than anyone else in the New Testament!
Of the 12 times “Gehenna” (the Greek word for hell) appears, Jesus says 11 of them! And no youth leaders in their right mind would ever accuse Jesus of preaching “too much hell and brimstone!”
Pause now to read Luke 16:19-31. See if Jesus’ vivid descriptions of hell doesn’t trigger some sense of urgency in your heart for reaching lost people.
Jesus didn’t tell this story about the rich man and Lazarus just to scare his audience. Instead, he wanted to inspire people to reach out to the lost with Gospel hope. In 2 Peter 3:9 God reminds us he doesn’t want anyone to perish in hell but wants all to come to repentance.
We Are God’s Rescue Team!
You and I and the teenagers we minister to are God’s rescue team. He calls us to “snatch others from the flames and save them” (Jude 23).
And, yes, we have many more motivations than just saving them from the flames of hell and brimstone. We share Jesus because the love of Christ compels us (2 Corinthians 5:14). The compassion of Christ inspires us (Matthew 9:36). And the commission of Christ commands us (Matthew 28:19). But saving lost teenagers from hell and brimstone is a powerful motivation. Don’t avoid it!
The twin theologies of the wrath of God (as demonstrated in the theology of hell) and the love of God (as demonstrated by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross) are key reminders: We need to save teenagers from the hell they’re headed to and the hell they’re going through apart from Jesus.
Don’t try to be so relevant that you avoid the subject of hell with teenagers. On Judgment Day, when everyone who’s ever lived stands to give account of their lives before the Judge of all mankind, only one thing will be relevant. Are their names in the Book of Life? Will they spend an eternity in heaven or hell?
Unpack the truth of hell with your teenagers. Talk about the fire of hell and brimstone (Matthew 18:8-9), the fury of hell (Revelation 14:10-11) and the finality of hell (Luke 19:25-28). Use this simple three-point outline. Then conclude with a direct challenge to rescue their friends before it’s too late.
If kids don’t know how to share the Gospel, they can download the easy-to-use and completely free Life in 6 Words app.
Discussing Hell and Brimstone Is an Act of Love
Talking about hell is not a scare tactic. It’s showing love in it’s most elemental form. It’s saving a generation from God’s wrath and delivering them into Christ’s loving arms, both now and forevermore!
I close with words from Charles Spurgeon. They’re a stark reminder of what’s at stake. “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”
May your youth group members never ask you, “Why have you never talked to us about the reality of hell?”
This article about hell and brimstone originally appeared here.