Many times I have asked students what they think about telling others about their relationship with Christ. They of course say something along the lines of it being a “good idea.” After all if you love Jesus you should talk about Him right? However if I ask: “When is the last time you told someone about your relationship with Jesus, and inquired if they have one too?” I get a different response:
Silence. Followed by looking everywhere but me in the eye. Followed by more silence.
Finally one day I asked” “What stops you? “ This is when they discussed three major roadblocks to students talking about their faith.
“I Forget to Tell Them.”
This has less to do with what we would call “blatant” apathy and more to do with the life of a teen. They have told me that when we all attend an “event” where this is inspired in them, they feel conviction. Then they come home the idea might “stick” for a while. Then comfort sets in, they go about their routine, and honestly telling others leaves their mind. It isn’t at the forefront of their mind.
“What if I don’t know all the answers?” also “I’m not good enough.”
One girl told of a time she tried to tell her teacher about Christ and the debate that ensued totally intimidated her. I have also heard, “Well my friend pointed out all of the mistakes I always make and said that I shouldn’t be telling others until I get myself together.” “My friend is an atheist and I have no idea how to answer his questions.” In these “moments” students feel exposed. At an age that is about “fitting in,” they hate this. Our job as youth pastors is to prepare them for these times and help them learn simply to tell their own story. They don’t need to know everything; just what Jesus saved them from personally, what the cross and resurrection means and why this matters. In addition we need to be resources when someone does press to know specifics. Let students know “You can come to me and we will sit down with the person together.” (Dare2Share offers great resources in this area.)
“All my true friends are already Christians.”
This one I have heard from my “own” children when I press them on this topic. It opened my eyes to the reality that students who have grown up in the church assume everyone around them that “matters” already “knows this stuff.” We need to remind them again to just share their “Christ story.” They may find that everyone they thought “knew” doesn’t really know Him at all.
All we can do is to keep pressing for students to explore their own relationship with Christ, and why they would want to share that with others. However, we can’t tell others about what we don’t have. More than once I have encountered a “good youth” who doesn’t know the Lord. Once we recognize these roadblocks we can work with our students (and ourselves) to plow them down.