Jesus used a bunch of teenagers to change the world so why do we often underestimate young people? I for one believe if we are going to see a shift in this generation, to a generation who are discovering the truth of Jesus’ transformational power, it’s going to be as a result of young people sharing their faith with their friends.
True passion to share your faith has to come out of an authentic relationship with Jesus. Evangelism is putting God on display in your everyday. Young people can make a difference in the lives of their friends, in their community and in their world but first we need to take the pressure off.
When it comes to evangelism it’s vital that we meet people where they are at, to connect them with Jesus in a way that they find accessible. Often for people there is a process involved. We can take the pressure off young people, and ourselves, by remembering it’s not all about one conversation. We need to find common ground with people. Jesus spoke to the woman at the well about water, he spoke to Nicodemus about theology. We need to be aware of where people are coming from and finding good connection points in which we can talk to them about our faith.
This demonstrates that sharing our faith often comes out of good relationships. The way we speak, the choices we make and the way we use our time are all important, as we can then share the gospel message when the opportunity arises. This natural approach to evangelism is one that I think can help take the pressure of young people and also encourage them that they can share their faith.
But let me be the first to admit that when an opportunity comes along to share my faith, my thought process is often filled with negative thoughts:
“How can God use me?’’
“I’ll probably say something wrong.”
“People aren’t interested in what I have to say.”
These are just some of the thoughts that cross my mind and I know I’m not alone. It’s good to encourage young people to take a very relational approach to evangelism but let’s not forget it’s supposed to be a challenge. It requires risk but why are we so often surprised by this? Jesus himself said we would face difficulty but in the same breath he stated that we do not have to fear because He has overcome it (John 16:33). So let’s not allow the culture we are a part of prevent us from sharing the truth but instead rely on God to help us set a new culture.
As people who actively work with young people we have a major part to play in this journey of evangelism. It is vital that we set the culture in our local church to one where evangelism is at the core. That we create an environment where sharing your faith is encouraged and praised, a place where we can celebrate young people’s success stories and stand with them when it’s difficult and they face rejection. Significantly, they need to see this modelled from their leaders.
A great place to start is teaching them:
- how to share their own story in a way that their friends can understand,
- to explore the importance of praying for their friends,
- and how to look for opportunities to share their faith.
It’s vital they know that they don’t need to have it all together in order for God to use them – just look in the Bible. Young people need to feel empowered and supported to share their faith. However, this needs to go hand in hand with creating a place and environment where young people are happy to bring their friends, a place that is safe and accessible for young people who aren’t used to a church context, so our language needs to be inclusive not alienating.
The bottom line is we can’t do one without the other, because we want young people to step out, share their faith and be bold enough to ask their friends to come to church. So it’s vital that we are setting the right culture both by our examples and the environments we create.
I want to encourage you that whether you’ve ever shared your faith before or you are yet to for the first time, God is with you wherever you go and has declared that he will never leave you. So let’s take a risk and see what happens when we step out boldly for God and share our faith.