Let me do a little prefacing here. I am all for the gospel, sharing the gospel, allowing the Holy Spirit to work in hearts, and allowing that response to happen. However, I have seen many articles and books written lately on the following:
- Luke-warm Faith – Crazy Love, Not a Fan, Radical…all are speaking against the luke-warm faith. These happen to be 3 of my favorite books, and they do a great job at convicting the lackadaisical Christian, if there is such a thing.
- Easy-Believism – There is a growing worry in evangelical circles that easy-believism is easily-a-problem. I’m on board here. It’s not a simple prayer and your saved…it’s a…more on that later.
- Christian-ese – Be careful using words like “ask Jesus in your heart” or “saved”
So what is the solution to the problem. One of my biggest fears is allowing someone to believe they are a son or daughter of God…and they get to heaven and get “Depart from me, I never knew you”. That scares me to death…and I believe that is a healthy fear. But what do we, as youth pastors, youth leaders, Sunday school teachers, and parents do or not do in our Gospel invitations. Well, I may not have all the answers, but here is a start:
- Don’t Be Their Assurance – It is not your job to be their assurance. So it does no good to say “If you said that prayer, then you are a Christian”. Sorry, but you don’t have that right to say that. Only God knows their heart. But you can point them to verses like John 5:24, I John 5:13, or John 10:28-29 to find their assurance in their great God!
- Don’t do the Raise Your Hand Thing – Listen, I’m okay with raising your hand if you made a decision…but DON’T STOP THERE. Provide counselors or small group leaders to follow up. Follow up with the decision, make sure they understand, and welcome them into the family of God with instruction, guidance, and a new Bible. Provide them with someone they can meet with on a weekly basis to go over the first steps of faith.
- Don’t Be Ashamed of The Gospel – The gospel is offensive. You are telling people they are sinners and their ultimate destination is hell if they don’t do something about it. Now, I don’t suggest opening your message with that statement, but don’t tiptoe around it either.
- Let Jesus be the Main Character -I recently shared a gospel message with about 70 students. I asked some of my students the next week how the conversations were going with their friends. One said they have had several spiritual conversations at the lunch table. YES! Another said his friends thought I was really funny. NOOOOOO! Illustrations, humor, and engaging the audience are good…but don’t let it get in the way of the star…Jesus Christ.
- Remember Your Job – Your job is to the set the table. Don’t force people to say a prayer and see how many did so you can feel like it is a success. Salvation is a life-long, life-surrendering, life-altering commitment of trust and faith in Jesus Christ. It’s not just a prayer! So, give them the gospel, sow the seed, and let Holy Spirit do a work in their hearts.
This is something that God has been convicting the snot out of me. The Gospel is the best news anyone will hear in their entire life, and I don’t want to screw it up. These are some lessons I have learned along the way…I would LOVE to hear what God has taught you.