Continuing my series on the Essentials in Youth ministry (here is my defense of youth ministry, and essentials part 1 and part 2), I come to an essential that I believe I shouldn’t have to mention. It should be an obvious aspect of every youth group that calls itself a “ministry.” However, as I look across the youth ministry landscape (websites, resources, etc.), I find this essential missing or at least rarely mentioned to watered-down. Yes, we must pray. Yes, we must properly present the Bible. Yes, we can play games and do fun events. But, we must also preach the Gospel!
Did you hear me youth pastor? YOU MUST PREACH THE GOSPEL!!!
I am a well-trained pastor. I have been to Bible College. I have been to seminary. I have worked with youth for 10+ years. I am a blogger. All to say, it would seem at this point I should give you a three point outline and a poem for why you, as a youth pastor, should preach the gospel as an essential to your “ministry.” However, in this case, there is only one reason needed:
THE GOSPEL MESSAGE IS THE ONLY MESSAGE THAT SAVES!!!
Here is what the Bible says about the gospel message:
Mark 8:35, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
Acts 4:10-12, “Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead … there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.””
Rom 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”
Rom 10:13, “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”
1 Cor 15:1, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved.”
Eph 1:13, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise”
2 Thess 2:14, “It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Tim 1:10, “our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
Pretty clear, huh? Are you motivated yet?
2 Thess 1:7-9, “the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”
Satan knows that the gospel message is a saving message (2 Cor 4:4) and he is actively working to blind your students to its message. If you avoid the gospel message, you are playing right into his scheme. Shouldn’t your understanding of this simple fact make you more motivated to preach the gospel regularly?
Oh, and by the way, you must speak the gospel. Yes, the gospel is to show itself impacting your life (Phil 1:27a). But you must speak it for your student sheep to believe.
Rom 10:14, 17, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”
Need another motivation: Jesus’ commanded us to preach the gospel.
Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’”
What more do you need than that, youth pastor? Why are we known as cool, hipster, fun, quirky, relevant, etc.? Why is your youth group known as “a cool place to hang out?” Youth pastor: we must be known as we have been commanded from our Lord. We must be known as proclaimers of the gospel (1 Cor 1:17)! We must “be a minister of Christ Jesus … ministering as a priest the gospel of God” (Rom 15:16). Is your youth group known as a having a leader who proclaims the gospel each time you meet?
Think of the Apostles. They were known as gospel proclaimers (1 Thess 2:4; 1 John 1:2-3). Too many youth pastors are self-proclaimers. We must be gospel proclaimers (Acts 20:24)!
On final word: Jesus preached the gospel everywhere He went (Matt 4:23; 9:35; 11:5; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 16:16; 20:1). Why should we do any less?
Youth pastor: “we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God” (1 Thess 2:4). May we all say in one accord concerning our ministry to youth: “woe is me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Cor 9:16).
And just in case you forgot, let me remind you of the gospel message you are to proclaim. It is summed up into four key points: God, Man, Christ, and Sinners.
Created and Owns Everything
• Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth
• Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains; the world and those who dwell in it
Is perfectly Holy
• 1 John 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all
• Matthew 5:48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect
Requires Perfect Obedience to His Law
• James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point has become guilty of all
Has broken God’s law
• Romans 3:10, 23 There is none righteous not even one; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
Will pay the eternal penalty for sin
• Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord
Cannot save himself by his good works
• Titus 3:5 He saved us not on the basis of deeds we have done in righteousness, but according to his mercy. He saved by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit. See also Isaiah 64:6 and Ephesians 2:8-9
Came to earth as both God and sinless man
• Colossians 2:9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form
Demonstrated God’s love by dying on the cross to pay sin’s penalty
• Romans 5:8 but God demonstrates His own love toward us, n that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us
• 2 Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. See also John 3:16 and 1 Peter 2:24
Rose again from the grave and is alive today
• 1 Corinthians 15:4 That he was buried and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
Must repent of all that dishonors God
• Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts and let him return to the Lord and he will have compassion on him and to our God for he will abundantly pardon
• Luke 9:23 and he was saying to them all, If anyone wishes to come after me he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Must believe in Christ as Lord and Savior
• Romans 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
Will you repent and believe in Christ?
• Acts 17:30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent
(thanks to Grace Bible Church in Bakersfield, CA for this simple rundown of the gospel)