Taking the gospel to the younger generation, which is also missionary work [the great commission], has now proven to be a more difficult task as years go by. We are constantly at war with the media and other ungodly social vices that are competing for the attention of our teens. The devil is aggressively and shamelessly using his agents to take capture the hearts of our teens while we ignorantly sit back and keep using old wineskins to house new wine. The way we choose to respond to his vices is very important because if we do not use wisdom, we stand the risk of losing the younger generation to evil. We need to recognize that times have changed and there is a great need for those involved in teens mission to disciple these ones for Christ, using a very open and honest approach instead of going around in circles.
You were once teen-aged and I am pretty sure you can remember that all you were concerned about was your identity; how you appeared to other people and what you felt you must do to fit in. It is the same for the younger generation as well. Their parents, older relatives and other people whom they look to, their God-given guardian, are sometimes so wrapped up in their own world that they rarely pay attention to these ones. In the search for this identity, they turn to all the wrong sources and seek advice from the wrong people who happen to be the available ones. The internet becomes their most treasured asset and as you know where your treasure lies is where your heart is. As someone who is already in the teens’ mission or one who is planning to get involved, it is important to remember that you do not have to go to a 3rd world country to disciple teens for Christ. It all begins with those around you. The teens of this generation require an honest, “in-your-face” disciplinary approach to the gospel. By disciplinary, I do not mean physical beating. It simply means training them to develop self-control, build godly character and have an orderly life.
Leading Them Closer to Christ
Everything about God is relationship based. He sent His son to re-establish the relationship that was broken when man fell to sin. We communicate and hear clearly from God without confusion when we are in a relationship with Him. The same goes for us as human beings. We are relational beings which mean that in order for us to communicate effectively and with intimacy [not sexual intimacy], we must establish a relationship with whoever we are trying to reach. If you want to reach the teen-aged generation then you have to be willing to establish a relationship with them, be vulnerable. You will need to discard the “it is not my business mentality” and prepare to get your feelings hurt sometimes, because these kids may not be willing to give up their sinful lifestyle without a fight. They may not be your children but you have a responsibility towards training them and leading them closer to Christ and this makes it every bit of your business. This brings me to my next point. Lack of knowledge is the reason why they put up a resistance each time you try to lead them to Christ. They already have the poor mentality that anything Godly is boring so they’d rather have “fun” than be caged. We all know this is a lie from the pit of hell but how we choose to communicate that to our teens’ matters a lot. Some of the ways we can communicate these things to them include;
Building Relationships: Go out of your way and look for teens who are hurting or who are unruly. It doesn’t mean that the other ones who appear to be sane do not need disciplining but that is a good place to start. Sign up for teen discipleship meetings and become an active teacher. It is important to remember that these kids will not respond to you if you come from a place of condemnation. The way we perceive condemnation and the way they perceive condemnation are very different. How will they be willing to give up that which is sinful when they do not know that the way of life they have chosen for themselves is destructive? These kids do not want to be told the commandments and the laws that must be obeyed. It puts too much pressure on them. All they want is for someone to be real with them. You should be able to make your ministry so personal that they start to long for the truth you are selling to them. Speak to them in a manner that speaks directly to their teen-aged struggle. Show them how relevant the Word is in their lives and daily issues. Give practical examples, even using your life story as an example. Engage them while you teach and give dramatic illustrations. Relate with them on a personal level that will cause them to develop a consciousness for truth and experience Christ.
Be an Example: The only way we can be credible to them is when they see our passion for Jesus. Let your life tell a story. Let his love for them is reflected in you and your actions. You and your team must have a significant and trusting relationship with Christ and it must reflect in the way you live your life. Your life should be the message and not just your words. You cannot be telling them to give up on something while you are holding tight to it in the secret. Everything that is hidden will come to the open someday. Do not be the one to cause these little ones to fall because you have refused to develop self-control. Let your lifestyle and your words be aligned to the message you are trying to pass.
Build Trust: The teens today are looking for intimacy and maturation. The foundation of your relationship with them must be built on truth; honesty about who you are and even your past when necessary. They require sacrificial love. With them, the little things count. Spend time with them, listening to them no matter how irrelevant you think their words are or how off their timing may seem. It won’t be the powerful sermon we gave on sex or drugs they will remember, but the personal time we gave or their late-night phone call we are when they were facing a major problem or decision and just wanted to talk. They want to know and trust someone that they can do this with.
Point them to the Word: It is easy for them to start relying on you instead of on Jesus. Do not give an opportunity for this. Always point them to the Word. Hold bible discussion classes and trust the Holy Spirit to make the Word come alive to you so that you can make it come alive to them while teaching. It is also important that you remember that you are not the Holy Spirit. You do not have the ability to convict but only to be used as a vessel. Do not try judging the conviction of the Holy Spirit in their hearts by their reactions. Some of these ones know how to mask their feelings a lot and can make you feel like you are pouring water on a rock. Well, keep pouring. Just be patient. That rock will become a bowl someday but it is not for you to decide when that will be. Your job is to keep speaking God’s Word. It is also important that you pray for them. Spend time interceding for them. Works without faith is dead just as Faith without works is dead. Back up your labor of love with prayers made in faith.
The success of teens mission must be evaluated on how well it is leading them to a deeper commitment to Christ. Check to see the way they relate to others and the way they live their lives after the encounter with Christ. No one comes in contact with God and leaves the same. These kids who are being led to Christ will in turn, out of excitement share the good news to other kids who will come out of curiosity. This is why it is important we take careful steps in pulling them out of the world and into the light. Don’t just involve them in activities. Be creative. The end game is for them to have a relationship with Christ and to be deeply rooted in His love. Be a vessel in bringing this to pass. The salvation of these kids is your responsibility.