I am honored to lead the Resources Division at LifeWay and serve with a team of leaders who are passionate to serve the Church in Her mission of making disciples. Each Wednesday, I share the heart behind one of the resources our team has developed and give an opportunity for you to register to win a free copy of the resource. This week’s resource is The Gospel Project for Students Circular Timeline. Our Student team helped with this post.
When it comes to making a difference in the lives of students, it is important that church leaders recognize they aren’t the only ones speaking into the lives of their students. Many of the influences students are subjected to stand in opposition to the message of the Christian faith.
All sorts of authorities—coming from either school, culture, or home—are vying for their attention. And in most instances, church leaders are at a disadvantage—the worldview influencers whom they are competing against may have more direct contact with the students throughout the week compared to the one to two hours he or she may have during the youth group’s weekly meetings.
Because church leaders have such a small window of opportunity to influence a student’s life, it’s important to make the gospel message clear and distinct from the messages they are receiving from these other authorities. That message may go something like:
1. The world says salvation comes from us doing. The Bible says salvation comes from what God has done for us in Christ.
Whether it comes from other world religions or cultural forms of Christianity, our students often hear that a right standing with God comes by way of personal effort and reward. And because of our broken human tendency to lean in that direction, it is critically important that our students hear that the grace and mercy that come from God are undeserved gifts from a God who loves them.
2. The world says salvation comes from character formation. The Bible says salvation comes from an internal heart transformation.
Another narrative that competes for our students’ allegiance is the belief that salvation is something that is essentially external. In other words, salvation might include cleaning up one’s act by having better control over personal speech, putting self-imposed parameters around oneself in order to prevent one from going too far sexually with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or having your friend install search limits on your laptop or smartphone to prevent you from visiting certain websites.
While these things can certainly be helpful and good at times, our students should never mistake these behavioral problems for anything other than the heart problems they are. As Jesus says in Matthew 15, it is first and foremost the human heart that is the problem, not the behavior.
3. The world says salvation comes from being a good person. The Bible says salvation comes from being covered in the goodness of Christ on our behalf.
Our culture tends to operate under the false impressions that 1) people are basically “good,” and 2) God wouldn’t send a “good” person to hell to suffer. There is a lot that needs to be said to our students on this subject; the first is simply challenging the belief that people are basically good with a biblical understanding on the subject (cf. Eph. 2:1-3).
Like Isaiah in the temple, our students need to be awakened to the seriousness of their sin while simultaneously being utterly amazed at God’s saving work of grace through the goodness of Jesus on their behalf.
The Gospel Project is a Bible study resource that invites students to dive deeply into God’s story of redemption through Jesus Christ. In every lesson, participants are immersed in the gospel, not only internalizing what Christ has done for them but also how the gospel challenges the way they think, feel, and live from day to day.
Today I am giving away 5 copies of The Gospel Project for Students Circular Timeline. Register here or in the form below before 11:59pm Wednesday, September 7 to win one of 5 copies. We choose the winners on Thursday, so if you are not emailed on Thursday, you did not win.