Family Ministry Blog

Following Jesus: Will You Join Me?

by Ben Holden on July 06, 2020

Today I want to take you back to one of my very first blog posts from over two years ago. It's just as challenging now as the day I wrote it. And I want to bring it back to the forefront of our minds whether you read it before or you're reading it for the first time. I hope it serves you well.

Are You Prepared to Share the Gospel?

Most of my middle and high school years at church were spent learning how to follow Jesus Christ. We learned about him and what it means to be in a relationship with him. I learned a lot, was challenged a lot, and saw myself growing in my faith. It was a very valuable time, and during my later high school days, I distinctly felt God's call to full-time ministry. I was excited and dove headfirst into ministry once I began college.

I began a ministry internship with a large youth group in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was finally getting a chance to learn the ins and outs of ministry and invest in the lives of students! Everything was going well, until one night, when I was faced with a situation that showed me what I had been missing.

The church's membership process started with an event, Dinner with the Pastor. Those interested in membership would come to a dinner in the fellowship hall where they would meet the pastoral staff, learn about the heart and values of the church, and talk one-on-one with a pastor or elder to share their testimony.

Brody, the middle school pastor invited me to join him one evening at the table he would be hosting. At dinner, we met a family with a teenage son. At one point in the evening, I remember Brody asking the student if he knew about the gospel and if he had ever responded to it. The young man hesitated and shyly said no.

Brody's response was, "Great! Ben would be happy to share the gospel with you!" He then proceeded to have a more private conversation with the boy's parents. Not a big deal right? I was a Christian, a disciple of Jesus, who had been growing in my faith and has been called into full-time ministry. This should be a slam dunk! But that wasn't the case.

As I began to talk through the gospel with this young man, I quickly found myself stuttering and stammering, giving a very confusing, unorganized, and extremely jumbled picture of who Jesus was and what he did for us at the cross. Did I know the gospel? Absolutely! Did I know how to share it with someone else in a manner that was clear, compelling, and true to Scripture? Apparently not! I had spent a lot of time focusing on following Jesus, being a disciple, but I wasn't a disciple who was making disciples.

We Are Called to Be Ambassadors for Christ

2 Corinthians 5:19-20 says:

...that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Because of what God has done for us through his Son, Jesus Christ, we are to not only be disciples of Christ, we are to be ambassadors for Christ. We are to take this message of reconciliation to those people around us. Plus, we should be able to explain the gospel and walk through it with others.

We are to be disciples who make disciples.

But this call is not just for the long-time, "super-mature has it all together" Christian. This call is to all Christians, new and seasoned, young and old, outgoing and shy. As adults, we need to click into this reality and let it take shape in our lives. But it goes well beyond that. We need to be leading our children and grandchildren to not just follow Jesus, but also be people who are inviting others to live a life of faith in Jesus.

Let me suggest five short ways that you can help lead your children, grandchildren, or anyone of the younger generation toward being a disciple who makes disciples.

Help young people catch the vision and understand the mission.

Some people tend to shy away from direct times of teaching their children from the Bible. They like to leave that to the pros at church. Yet, God has called you to take the lead spiritually in their life. You don't need a three-point sermon filled with lots of illustrations. Simply start with a conversation. Look at passages like 2 Corinthians 5, Matthew 28, and Acts 1 together. Study those passages, ask questions, and point out the truth. It will go a long way in their understanding of God's call.

Help them understand the gospel.

The gospel is not about avoiding hell and getting into heaven. It is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 clearly defines the gospel; check it for yourself! Our children need to understand sin, brokenness, who Jesus is and what he did, forgiveness, repentance, faith, lordship, reconciliation, and the sufficiency of God's grace.

Have you ever talked about these things with your child? Raising our hands because we want to go to heaven when we are seven years old is not enough. (I greatly recommend our "Salvation and Baptism" packet as a resource to help you have these conversations with your children. They are available in hard copy at our Kids and Youth check-in areas.) Start the conversation and continue the conversation - that's the challenge. We can't make disciples of other people if we don't first understand the gospel ourselves.

Teach them how to share the gospel with others.

I am a living testament that knowing the gospel does not mean that you are ready and able to share the gospel clearly. It takes practice! The more you practice, the more prepared you will be when it is time to share with someone. Take time as a family to practice this together. Find a tool that works well, is clear, and talks through the necessary parts of the gospel. I recommend the Three Circles Gospel Tool. It isn't about the tool; it is about knowing how to share the gospel and being ready when the opportunity arises.

Emulate what it looks like to share the gospel with others.

If you can't share the gospel - if you don't share the gospel - they won't share the gospel. Kids emulate what they see, for better or for worse. If you are living a life as a disciple who is making disciples, your kids are much more likely to do the same. Your example is what their eyes need. Through the process, you can share your successes, your shortcomings and failures, and your fears with your kids. This will show them a true and honest journey of a Christian who is on mission.

Encourage and support them.

Help point out opportunities for gospel conversations with your kids. Encourage them to keep an eye out for people they can share with. This will be immensely helpful as you guide and equip them. Talk through their struggles and fears. They need to know they are not alone. This also gives you the opportunity to bring some needed accountability.

We aren't called to just be disciples, but disciples making disciples. Fortunately, it isn't up to us. It is the power of the Holy Spirit working through us. We have been called to be Christ's ambassadors and to share the ministry and message of reconciliation with those we come in contact with. Don't let your kids think this is something the professionals do or for certain gifted, life-long mature Christians. The call is the same for all of us. Instilling this in their lives now will make a huge impact on their lives and God's kingdom.

I don't know what happened with that student I tried to share the gospel with that night a number of years back. It was a mess. My prayer has been that God would somehow redeem that time and that it would be useful in the process of him one day responding to the gospel. The challenge was clear though. I need to be ready. And I want my kids to be ready. So, together, let's strive to be disciples who are making disciples and challenging our kids toward that same mindset.

Tags: discipleship, godly example, share the gospel, follow jesus, following jesus, share the good news

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