No, this is not a trick question. I’m actually very curious about this and I want to know what your opinions are about the word, “Repent.” Is it a 4-letter word? My good friend, Chris, and I have conversations about the word on occasion and it’s healthy. I just want you to chime in, no matter what your opinion is.
I know that it’s in the Bible. Jesus used it, as did many others. What I really want to know is if you think the word “repent” is necessary to use when communicating a clear and compelling Gospel to a non-believer. Personally, I lean towards the fact that it is unnecessary, but I know others who believe it is necessary to use the word “repent” in order to communicate a clear and compelling Gospel.
Here are the random facts I understand about “repent” that have led me to believe what I believe:
- Repent is not used once in the Gospel of John, which is the only book in the New Testament written to non-believers.
- Repent is often explained in correctly to include stop sinning (which is an impossibility even for believers).
- the original Greek word, metanaio, means to change your mind or change the way you think.
- Paul clearly communicates that we are saved by faith or because we believe, and by nothing else – not by repenting.
- I’ve heard it said that the only people ever instructed to repent in the New Testament were Jews, but I’m not positive on that myself.
Please hear me. I’m not scared of the word and I don’t want to avoid using it when and where it’s necessary. However, because of the baggage that it comes with and the fact that I haven’t found where repent is deemed to be necessary in communicating the Gospel I tend not to use it. Not of fear, but out of a desire to not confuse or muddy the Gospel.
What do you think? Am I correct in my leanings of the word, “Repent” or am I letting the baggage weigh me down too?
When I was younger in Youth Ministry I was actaully resistent to the idea of a Family Centered Youth Ministry. In my immaturity I believed Youth Ministry was all about the teenagers and that the Senior Pastor was supposed to “babysit” the parents. It didn’t take me too long to figure out that this was a poor view of doing ministry and even divisive to the family unit. Here are a few things I began to do in an attempt to be more family focused and involve parents as I ran my Youth Ministry.
- Monthly meetings with parents. It was simple enough and outside of a little prep time it wasn’t much more than an hour on a Sunday night. It was a great opportunity for me to cast the vision of the Youth Ministry but primarily served the purpose of communicating to parents what was going on.
- Equipping parents with some available Youth Ministy resources. The website that the parents seemed to utilize and discuss with me the most was Walt Mueller’s The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding.
- Inviting parents to be involved. I began to intentionally recruit 2 parents of teenagers who weren’t regularly involved in the Youth Ministry to participate in our extra events: a monthly outing, night at the movies, DiscipleNow weekend, Ski Retreat, etc.
- Family activities as a Youth Group. This was super simple but highly effective. Having a dessert fellowship at the church, a family cookout at the sand volleyball pit…I took activities that were already being planned and planned for more people by inviting parents and siblings to make it family friendly.
As much improvement as I saw in the health of my Youth Ministry from implementing these relatively simple ideas, I have continued to put thought into a greater emphasis on the family if I’m ever called back into Full Time Youth Ministry. I keep hearing many in ministry reference Deuteronomy 6 as a basis for a more holistic, family approach to ministry. The more I consider it and the more I read about it the more it makes sense that this is critical and must be central to a healthy and biblical approach to Youth Ministry. Here are some of the additional things I would incorporate into my Youth Ministry as a Youth Leader dedicated to a Family Centered Youth Ministry:
- Invite parents into a prayer relationship with me. I would bathe them and their families in prayer, ask them to join me in covering the Youth Ministry in prayer, and connect them with each other so they could pray for each other as parents as well as their families.
- As I layout my lesson plans or series that to teach through I would provide parents with the content in advance. I would encourage them to start discussing the Biblical truths I would be teaching on at least the week prior to Youth Group. This way what I was doing as a Youth Leader would be complimenting what they are learning and doing as a family, not the other way around.
- In that same spirit, I would provide parents with key verses of scripture to memorize and discuss as a family so as I unveiled them through a series, teens would already know them.
- Implement a Parental Advisory Board. This one would probably require the most preparation, prayer and intentionality behind it. While I would certainly be an advocate for the vision of ministry that God has given me, I would want parents speaking into what we’re doing and informing me of issues their teens are deailing with or issues they are dealing with as a family so that I could continue to support and encourage them through the Youth Ministry.
- Next to prayer, the most important thing I would do is cast vision with and to the parents that our Youth Ministry was going to be about making disciples who make disciples. There are actually two things I would emphasize here:
- That the whole point of the Youth Ministry was to partner with them to disciple their teens to that they could in turn reach their lost friends (and families) and make disciples out of them. Adam McLane recently wrote an amazing blog to this end that I would encourage you to read as well.
- That as parents, they needed to live this out as well. Our effectiveness in getting their teens to live THE Cause would be directly dependant on their willing to live THE Cause as parents! Dare 2 Share provides multiple resources for both teens and adults in support of them living out this vision for THE Cause.
My paradigm of Youth Ministry has shifted quite a bit over the last decade but I’m thankful that God has continued to refine me and grow me as I work through it. I am much more satisfied with my view of Youth Ministry now and very excited to see how God continues to grow and stretch that vision in the future.
“We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.” – Acts 4:20 NLT
You’re probably familiar with this story. Peter and John have been arrested for preaching that there is resurrection for the dead through Jesus and are standing before the Council on trial. The men were impressed by the boldness of Peter and John as, “they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures,” Acts 4:13. At the same time they were threatened by them because, “They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus,” Acts 4:13.
When they threatened the two apostles and demanded that they stop speaking and preaching in the name of Jesus there was only one possible response that Peter and John could provide them with: “But Peter and John replied, ‘Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.’” Acts 4:19-20.
Personal Application: I think we need a little more of the attitude and spiritual swagger (confident humility) that Peter and John demonstrated in Acts 4:20…an Acts 4:20 attitude. If we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as a result of our faith in trust in Jesus Christ then it should come naturally to us to talk about what God is doing in us and through us. We also need to be more confident when it comes to evangelism. If we even remotely take the words Paul penned in Romans 1:16 to heart, how can we miss the opportunity or avoid speaking about the things God has done in our lives and what we have seen Him do? Why does it seem that we are intimidated to speak about God and share the Good News of His Son Jesus Christ? Look for an opportunity today to bring God up in any conversation and share what He has been doing in your life.
Youth Ministry Application: As we disciple the teens that God has put in our care we need to instill in them a boldness to proclaim God ! Could you imagine the impact of teenagers regularly speaking about God on their campuses? We need to empower and equip the teens we know to live THE Cause every opportunity they are given.
- Open up a Youth Group meeting by asking teens what God has been doing in their lives.
- Close your time together by taking 5 for THE Cause and having teens share evangelism stories in their lives over the past week.
- Whatever you do, make sharing stories about what God is doing in everyone’s life a normal fixture of your Youth Ministry culture.
In my ongoing study of learning about God and trying to gain a holy perspective of Him I turned to Isaiah 6 after meditating on Revelation 4 for the past several days. There is something very stirring about reading these passages that depict God is all of His glory as He resides in Heaven.
The first thing that jumps out at me in Isaiah 6 after reading Revelation 4 is might seraphim that are flying around him with 6 wings (2 to cover their feet, 2 to cover their faces, and 2 to fly with). I immediately thought of the four living beings in Revelation 4. While John uses greater detail in Revelation 4 I am assuming that these holy creatures are one (or four) in the same as in both images of God’s throneroom we see them flying around, each with 6 wings, singing God’s praises as they cry out “Holy, holy, holy!” In Isaiah we see God sitting on His throne wearing a robe that’s train filled the temple and smoke that filled the building. The praise of the seraphim actually shook the room to its foundation.
As I compare the two passages I’m astounded by the similarities and curious about some of the differences. I absolutely believe that God exists outside the limitations of time but I wonder if one of the keys to the differences in these two passages is that the scene in Revelation 4 is certainly after Christ’s life on earth and also what I believe to be a view of Heaven after all the believers ascend into Heaven. I could be off in my estimation but it’s currently where I am at in wrestling through with these passages. If someone out there has a better understanding or idea for the differences in these passages I would love to hear it.
Regardless, I am in awe of God and His majesty as I meditate on Him ruling the universe from His throne in Heaven. I’m humbled to realize that the God of all things knows me and is more than just aware of my existence but actually loves me!
Sunday was a great day from a training standpoint. That morning Derwin Gray and I tag-teamed session 1 of Unleashing THE Cause. It was cool to hear Derwin’s perspective on evangelism as a process and I was able to compliment his theology and philosphy by walking Youth Leaders through some practical tools for how to implement THE Cause, primarily THE Cause Circle. We had a blast teaching together.
That afternoon Greg Stier joined us and he preached his sermon, “What drove Jesus should drive us!” and really shared that if that heart of Jesus, found in Luke 19:10, “The Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost,” then we should share that mission in life as well. We concluded our Sunday half-track with a great time of Q&A with the Youth Leaders by having them text in questions to a cell phone we had. It was a great way to host the Q&A.
“FUN!” is the best word I can come up with to describe Sunday night. It started with the most hilarious thing I have ever seen. The Skit Guys opened the general session with a Late Night Talk Show spoof…very Letterman-esque. They invited Greg to come out and gave him flowers (big mistake) and then setup to do an interview with him. As part of the spoof, as soon as Greg began to answer the band played and he was ushered off stage. Before leaving though, he beat down Tommy of the Skit Guys with his bouqet of flowers and the place went nuts (video coming soon). I concluded the night with a sneak peak into Gospel Journey Maui. Greg opened it up and we rolled one of the episodes, “Why are there so many religions and can they all be right?” Debb was able to give some updates on the cast and I was able to walk through the curriculum, explain the ALT-ernative teaching style and answer Youth Leader questions. Good times.
Sunday was a good day…