Leadership | Missions
Jon Kelly

Recently we moved into a new house and I wanted to teach my 10-year-old daughter the joys of loading a dishwasher. I figured since she hadn’t used one before, I should go though proper loading, proper soap amount, and pushing the right buttons. She told me kindly she could handle it and proceeded to make me feel like a fool when she figured things out simply by looking at the buttons. I grounded her for a week (kidding). It reminded me about times when I’ve felt the need to “dumb” things down in youth ministry.  

In contrast, early on as a pastor, I remember hearing a speaker at an outreach event for several hundred teens use the terms sanctification, justification, propitiation, and others in his message. I thought he was out of his mind. Yes, those terms are important, but how would teens who had never heard the gospel understand his points?

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FREEBIE #12 – New Year’s Power Point Game
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Since then, I’ve learned we can walk a fine line in presenting the gospel. We may oversimplify the need for Christ or use lofty terms and lose our audience. Too many times we shy away from the need of evangelism because we don’t want to give the harsh details of eternity. Teens need to hear why the message we preach is so important. Christ gives them purpose in life AND gives them hope for eternity. Looking back now, I see the speaker’s words were theologically complex, but his heart was in the right place. 

We must not allow ourselves to oversimplify the message in response to feeling uncomfortable with the very reason we’re preaching to them. After all, the gospel contains simple truths even small children can embrace. God has given teenagers the mind to handle the truth of the gospel. When we skirt around difficult evangelistic issues (hell, eternity, sin, consequences of sin, etc.), we do an injustice to God who gave teens a brain to reason. (Yes, he gave them all brains.)  

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FREEBIE #12 – New Year’s Power Point Game
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When preaching the gospel, we must explain the complete picture of the gospel. It’s easy to speak about Christ wanting a relationship with each teen, but not as easy to talk about their dire need for that relationship. Let them wrestle through it and the audience may just surprise you!

2 COMMENTS

  • James Hooper says:

    For the last several months, I have been wresting with this very issue. God has been pointing me in the direction of teaching more on the foundations of faith. Worship, Holiness, Grace, Salvation, etc. The question that keeps coming to my mind is how and when to place those subject matters that are important as well to a teens life, such as Identity, Sexuality, Family LIfe, etc?

    Again, Thanks for your post.

  • James Hooper says:

    For the last several months, I have been wresting with this very issue. God has been pointing me in the direction of teaching more on the foundations of faith. Worship, Holiness, Grace, Salvation, etc. The question that keeps coming to my mind is how and when to place those subject matters that are important as well to a teens life, such as Identity, Sexuality, Family LIfe, etc?

    Again, Thanks for your post.

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