Five reasons to share Mark's gospel with young people
Why would anyone want to run a course on Mark’s Gospel with a group of young people?
We all know that youth work is hard. There are heartaches, disappointments and difficulties. Surely it would be better to provide games and entertainment for young people and then try to reach them when they are older?
But by that time, of course, if entertainment is all we’ve offered them, they will have long since found better entertainment elsewhere. It is, after all, something the world specialises in! But as Christians, we can offer our young people something much more profound and compelling than entertainment, something that the world cannot compete with. We can share with them the gospel of God.
And when the gospel is presented in all its fullness, young lives can be changed by God radically and miraculously – forever.
Although reaching young people with the gospel of Jesus Christ and training them to be committed disciples can be hard, it is also an extraordinarily joyful task – it is something worth spending your life on.
1. God desires that young people should know him
The writer of Ecclesiastes considers what life is like when every possible pleasure is indulged – but God is excluded. He reaches a simple conclusion: “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
We should be mindful of our Creator when we are young. Sometimes we view the teenage years of young people as a phase that must be passed through before we can focus on winning them to Christ. Provided they get through those difficult years without getting into too many unhelpful things, and keep coming to church once in a while, we are content. But God wants young people to know him and be in a living relationship with him.
2. The time to know God is when we are young
The writer of Ecclesiastes reflects that it is better to know God “before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in them’” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
Why is that so? Because knowing God from our youth gives us reason and purpose for the rest of our lives. We live the life we were intended to live. Equally, God does not want us to waste the years he has given us. He wants us to use them for him, taking “pleasure in them” by serving him.
Great leaders are often formed when they are young. King David knew and served God from a young age; Daniel followed God from youth; and Timothy was reminded by Paul that he had been taught about God from his youth. When God saves a young person, he uses their youth to form them, to mould their character and attitudes, to shape a person who will follow Jesus for the rest of their lives – and influence others to do the same.
Think of what a difference a young person could make living fully for Jesus Christ: their witness at school or college; all the friends they can reach; the salt and light they can be in a lost world.
The young people of today are the serving, growing Christians of tomorrow and even the leaders of the future. If we invest our lives and energies in young people, we are investing in those who have the potential to love and glorify God for decades to come.
3. If we wait it could be too late
At the end of chapter 12, the writer of Ecclesiastes urges us to remember our Creator “before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken” (Ecclesiastes 12:6) and “the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). These are pictures of death. But it is not only the old who die; sometimes the young die too. And ultimately, everyone – whether young or old – will face death and the judgment of God. So we must share the gospel with young people before it is too late.
4. It is a time of great gospel opportunity
Statistics (mainly from the USA) tell us that as many as 85% of all Christians say they made a commitment to Christ between the ages of 4 and 14. A further 10% would say they started their Christian lives between the ages of 15 and 30. This means that the effectiveness of evangelism is greater with young people and students than at any other time in their lives. Some missional thinkers refer to this as the “4-14 window”.
This means that, as youth leaders, you are in the forefront of the most effective evangelistic opportunity you will have. Make good use of it!
5. It is the command of the Lord Jesus
Jesus commanded his followers to go into the world and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). That task includes young people.
Notice that our aim is not just to preach the gospel and move on. It is to make disciples, in just the same way that Jesus made disciples. He spent time with them, taught them, discussed questions with them and encouraged them in the first stirrings of their faith in him. The pattern we are to follow in making disciples is the same.
So... Introduce them to Jesus
Our resources CY, for 11-14s, and SOUL, for 15+, are especially designed for young people. They each comprise of seven fast-paced sessions exploring the identity, mission and call of Jesus.
We have just launched a children and young people's leader's area on our website, where you can find promotional resources for advertising your series, blog posts and training material to help you as you lead, as well as useful downloads such as talk outlines, visual aids and activity ideas.
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