Lately, I’ve been struggling with the question of what are realistic expectations to place on students. Let me explain. The goal of Journey Students is to “reach students who reach students.” We believe that it is too small a goal to simply reach students who are far from God. We want to reach those students, lead them to life in Christ, and then raise them up in such a way that they become a part of reaching others.
That’s the goal. Now with the goal clearly in focus, we’ve been strategizing about how to get there. The proverbial “bump” in the road that I’ve continued to run into over and over again is that all of the so-called “tools” of evangelism feel so wooden, stale, and inauthentic in the hands of my teenagers. Recently, a girl confided in me that she has friends that don’t know Jesus, and she doesn’t share Jesus with them. She said “if I were to say, ‘If you were to die tonight do you know for sure you would go to heaven,’ they would look at me like I’m stupid because nobody actually talks like that.”
So what is a realistic expectation? Should I actually expect students to share their faith with others when most adults don’t even do that? Is it enough to just expect them to invite their friends to church? As I’ve wrestled with this questions, I have decided that I should absolutely expect them to share their faith because Jesus expects them to do this. So then, how do we get there? It has to be more than teaching them the Romans Road, Steps to Peace with God, The Four Spiritual Laws, The ABC’s of salvation, or giving them a handful of tracts and turning them loose.
It’s not that these tools aren’t useful, but they will always seem wooden, inauthentic, and unnatural if you aren’t already talking about Jesus. So before I turn students loose to win their friends to Jesus, we need to begin with just teaching them how to talk about Jesus in public. But of course, they’re not talking about Jesus because they don’t already spend time with him. He’s not a presence in their lives. They don’t talk about him because it’s not a natural overflow. So what’s the solution?
Beginning in January 2012, we are enacting a process that is a part of a larger strategy. It’s called Re:Train. There are three steps: Reachout, Reproduce, Release. Each step is a 6 week class that will be offered once a year. Step one (Reachout) will train students how to begin reaching outside of themselves and how to make Jesus a part of normal everyday conversation. It will answer the question, how do I share Jesus with my friends? Step two (Reproduce) will train students how to actually make disciples. It will answer the question, how do I lead someone to Jesus? In step three (Release) we will actually begin releasing students to go and be a part of the mission.
Of course, this strategy will only work if students are already spending time Jesus on a daily basis so that everything they learn in Re:Train is just channeling the natural overflow of their life. Therefore, before Re:Train begins, there has to be some kind of prerequisite that helps students learn what it looks like to spend time with Jesus on a daily basis and teaches them the discipline that enables them to do it. This part is still a mystery, and we’re not exactly sure what the whole process looks like yet. But I am very excited about where this is headed and I’ll keep you posted about our progress.