By Greg Stier | Dare 2 Share | Arvada, Colorado | dare2share.org
Do your teens have evangephobia? In their “live and let live” world, evangelism can seem like an antiquated idea. We shouldn’t be surprised that evangephobia has spread like an epidemic through our youth groups.
Jesus clearly stated that He came to seek and save the lost, and He’s charged us with spreading His message to those who don’t know Him. Sharing the Gospel is not optional simply because of the times in which we live. It’s something we’re commanded to be about until His return.
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So what’s a youth leader to do? I’ve identified five key reasons teens don’t share their faith. I’ve also uncovered a few insights that can help you address their evangephobia and help you mobilize them to share the Gospel with their friends.
Reason #1: Fear – What will my friends think if I talk about Jesus? Fear of rejection looms large, but you can help your teens overcome their fear straight from the pages of Scripture. Show them that they’re not in this faith-sharing thing alone. God goes with them and promises to provide His power as they share His love and truth with others. 2 Timothy 1:7-8 assures us: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.” Help your teens learn to rely on God’s power and promises. Encourage them to pray for their lost friends and to ask for God’s assistance. This can give teens the courage they need to step out bravely.
Reason #2: Lack of Urgency – What difference does it make anyway? Hell is a very unpopular concept these days. But, Jesus spoke matter-of-factly about a literal hell. Jesus used the word gehenna (“hell”) eleven of the twelve times it appears in the New Testament. He never described hell as figurative, temporary, or anything less than horrific. The Bible describes hell as “for real” and “forever.”
Sometimes, the twenty-first-century version of the Christian God is just loving instead of just and loving. The just part of God (which demands absolute justice, holiness, and perfection) has been minimized and the loving part of God (which shows mercy, grace, and forgiveness) has been emphasized. As a result, teens have begun to view God as more of a cosmic Santa Claus who caters to their every whim instead of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) By helping your teens understand the reality of hell and the hope of heaven, the urgency of the message of the Gospel comes alive. They need to see that their friends’ eternal destiny hangs in the balance.
Reason #3: Live and Let Live – Other’s spiritual beliefs aren’t my business. Sometimes teens think evangelism is all about standing on a street corner with a bullhorn and yelling, “Repent!” They may see spiritual conversation as inappropriate or intrusive. Evangelism, however, is actually about…