A director for a California-based ministry that seeks to evangelize college students offered six important adjustments he believes American churches should undertake when reaching young people.
G’Joe Joseph of Campus Outreach San Diego out of Redeemer Church in Encinitas, wrote a column published by The Gospel Coalition titled “6 Needed Shifts for Reaching the Next Generation.”
“By no means are we proposing that we shift away from clear biblical teaching on important truths such as our legal guilt before God,” clarified Joseph.
“We are merely saying that shifting intuitions may require new starting places in evangelistic conversations and discipleship relationships.”
The first shift Joseph advised was to move away from the assumption that a preacher’s audience is going to be knowledgeable about the Bible.
“At least on the West Coast, the days have long past when one could start talking about Jesus and assume people knew his identity and claims,” wrote Joseph.
To justify this point, Joseph pointed to Acts 17, where the Apostle Paul used different methods when communicating the Gospel to non-Jewish audiences.
“The apostle Paul, who was quick to jump into the message of Jesus with Jewish audiences, shifted his approach when speaking to the unprepared Athenians,” Joseph explained.
“Unlike his typical messages laden with Old Testament references and Jewish assumptions, he was patient, contemplative, and slow with unprepared audiences.”
Joseph also advised evangelists to shift to “emphasize shame before guilt,” “a dialogue-oriented form of discipleship,” “winsome boldness,” to shift from “apologetics to hospitality,” and to create “a developmental approach to ministry.”
“Ministering to younger generations demands that we disciple the whole person for all of life. In the past, much discipleship started in the spiritual realm,” wrote Joseph.
“But upcoming generations need mentoring that helps to press Christianity into practical areas like finances, relationships, faith and work, and countless others.”
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Campus Outreach’s stated mission is to “seek to see college students called to Christ, changed by the gospel and compelled to go out into the harvest fields all round them.”
“We exist to come alongside Christ in His raising up of Christ-centered leaders from the campus through the Church for the renewal of our city and beyond,” explained the group.
In a column published by The Christian Post last September, Dare 2 Share Ministries International founder and president Greg Stier offered seven ways to help strengthen youth ministries.
These included making “intercessory prayer” a priority, training teens to practice “relational evangelism,” have a clear vision, have leaders who model good values, focus on “making and multiplying disciples” rather than just “making converts,” program true priorities, and properly measure progress.
“Your youth ministry priorities are either empty platitudes or true priorities depending on whether or not they get programmed. For instance, if you spend more time in announcements than actual prayer during youth group, is prayer a true priority? If you push all of your outreach efforts into a monthly or quarterly outreach meeting, is it a real priority?” wrote Stier.
“We must relentlessly program our priorities. We must put intercessory prayer, leadership development, evangelism training and disciple multiplication strategies into our programs and onto our calendars. If we don't, we are only fooling ourselves.”