In our youth ministry, we are in an interesting season between evangelism & discipleship. After a lot of growth & overturn of core students, we have found ourselves in desperate need of foundational doctrinal teaching. After a lot of prayer, pain, questions, tears, sleepless nights, and rough nights during small groups, I came to a startling realization…my students don’t know the gospel. Sure, I preach the gospel of Jesus Christ’s life, death, burial, & resurrection every single week (or at least I thought I did…), but for some reason it hasn’t taken root in most of our students’ lives. We have teenagers from all kinds of backgrounds: some Christian, many not. Even though my context is in the Bible-Belt South, one thing I’m learning is that we can no longer assume the gospel. I’ve heard it said that if one generation loves the gospel, but the next generation assumes the gospel, the next generation will hate the gospel. After a lot of struggle and prayer, I felt like our group was somewhere between assuming & hating…but definitely not loving. The truth is that both Jesus-professing & Jesus-rejecting students can fit into these categories. The reality is that we’ve got a lot of students who simply don’t know Jesus & need a doctrinal foundation. How can I preach the gospel if many don’t even believe the inspiration or validity of the Bible? Though I’m in a county where there are 400 churches, I truly am speaking to a de-churched generation…or at least one that has grossly assumed the gospel. This sermon from Matt Chandler at the Advance ’09 conference got me thinking…
We started asking ourselves as a team, what would happen if we went to the very basic core of Christianity and started there? We started wondering crazy questions like:
- Do our kids even know what the Trinity is about?
- What about salvation? We preach it every week, but how is one really saved?
- Where does our sin fit into all of this? Are we good people and Christianity makes us better people? Or are we bad people that are in desperate need of a Savior?
- How does creation interact with the education system’s agenda on evolutionism?
- We’re a Bible-based church, but do our students even believe it has validity?
- Who is Jesus? Was he just a man, good example, role model…or God himself? We say it every week, but do they really know who he is?
- Our worship band is pressing into the presence of God, but our students aren’t responding. Do they even know why or what or how we worship?
- What about hell? The most common question: How does a loving God let people go to hell?