Every youth leader has a false dilemma. This "dilemma" is whether or not to focus on evangelism or discipleship with their youth ministry.
The typical youth leader's thought process may go something like this, "If I focus on evangelism the kingdom will grow and so will my youth group. But if I focus on discipleship my teens will grow spiritually. I guess I'll focus on discipleship first and then my teens will be ready to evangelize."
But how has that approach worked with the adults in our churches? As a result of this "disciple first/evangelize later" approach we have a bunch of Christians filling our pews that may know basic doctrine but have lost their passion, urgency and vision to reach the lost. As a matter of fact the average Christian adult has never shared the Gospel with one of their peers.
But the youth leader's dilemma is really no dilemma at all if we take a look at the ministry of Jesus to his young disciples. Jesus had a "disciple now/evangelize now" approach that took his disciples deep into the Word while taking them wide (on mission) into the world.
Jesus taught them truth while they were spreading the good news of his kingdom to those around them. His ministry was a 3 1/2 year mission trip separated by multiple micro-teachings along the way. He taught them as he sent them. He sent them as he taught them.
There's a very interesting passage in Luke 10:17-20, "The seventy-two returned with joy and said, 'Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.' He replied, 'I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.'”
This was one of many fishing-for-people expeditions that Jesus put together (Matthew 4:19) for his disciples. On this particular one there are 72 disciples fishing for people through evangelism. They came back from the outreach on-fire and excited.
Why were they so excited? Was it over all of the people who had put their faith in Jesus as the Messiah? No! They were excited that demons came out when they commanded them to.
Jesus used this as a teaching opportunity. He reminded them that he witnessed the fall of Satan from heaven firsthand. It was the power of Jesus that booted Lucifer from his loft. And, as impressive as the power to kick a demon out of heaven (or a person) is, salvation is infinitely more exciting.
Jesus taught them to focus on the "steak" of salvation and not the "sizzle" of supernatural power to heal the sick or kick out demons or whatever.
This whole passage addresses the youth leader's false dilemma. Jesus exercized a "grow as you go" philosophy of discipleship. He knew that his disciples would grow more in their faith from going out and sharing the Word than just by sitting around in a synagogue exegeting it.
This same philosophy can (and should) be applied to your youth ministry philosophy.
During the week our teenagers, while at their schools, are on a fishing trip...especially if they go to a public school. The youth room can be that debriefing and teaching time where stories are told and truth is downloaded.
Our teenagers, like the early disciples, can grow as they go. And they'll grow much more if they go.
Why not train your teenagers to share their faith?
Why not bring them all out to Dare 2 Share Live coming up on October 13th so they can be part of a coast-to-coast fishing expedition with thousands upon thousands of other teenagers in 97 cities across the nation?
Think your teenagers need to grow spiritually first? Think again. Bring them to Dare 2 Share Live and watch their spiritual growth get kickstarted like never before!