Over the years, we have shared many things with our students. We have talked to them about staying pure before marriage, we have encouraged them to show kindness to others and asked them to stand for their faith in difficult times. These are good things, but have we shared Jesus with them enough? It seems simple and expected but, too often, we have gotten lost in behavioral modification rather than gospel transformation.
In a 2018 article titled “When is the Best Time to Accept Jesus as Your Savior?” from Christianity Today, Azalea Pena shares, “According to the Barna Group, almost half (43%) of Americans accept Jesus as their savior before reaching 13 years old, 64% accept Jesus before they turn 18, 13% make the commitment in between the ages of 18 to 21 and 23% accepted Jesus after they reach 21 years of age.” (christiantoday.com/article/when-is-the-best-time-to-accept-jesus-as-your-savior/128461.htm)
It boils down to a need to clearly communicate the gospel message to our children and students before they leave the home. We must make this a priority in our children and student ministries.
Knowing the great need is not enough. We must act. While there are certainly changes we need to make in our ministry methodologies, we often forget the first step — prayer. God wants us to turn to Him with our great need. He wants us to trust Him to work in the lives of our children and students. Are you praying for the salvation of the students in your church? I’ll be honest. I’m not doing it enough. It is time for that to change. Let me give you a starting point as we seek to lift the lost to the Lord:
• Pray for the lost children and students in your church. If you look around on a Sunday, you are hopefully seeing children and students. Your church may not have many, but whether there are 2 or 200, they all need Jesus. In our churches, you will find three types of lost children and students — there are those that are not quite ready for the truth of the gospel because of age and understanding, there are those that think they are saved and there are those that know they are lost.
Those that think they have done the things that will gain them entrance into Heaven have probably been baptized and are members of the church, but they never trusted Jesus for their salvation. These children and students have been a part of the church and may even be “good” kids, but that doesn’t change their need for a real relationship with Jesus Christ.
The last group includes is those that probably know they are lost. They simply don’t want to “bend the knee” to Jesus. For them, it costs too much to be a Christian.
At the end of the day, all three groups need Jesus. You see them on a regular basis. When you do, pray that God will reveal Himself in clear ways as the gospel is presented in your church.
• Pray for the lost children and students in your community. Our communities are full of unbelievers. Our students go to school with many of them. Pray that God will save the lost of your town, and that He will pour out revival through the young men and women of your community. Imagine how God could use a high school full of students that are sold out for Christ. Pray that God will open doors and that He will provide opportunities for the youth of your community to meet Jesus.
• Pray for laborers to be raised up. In today’s society, youth pastors don’t have access to schools the way they once did. I can’t randomly go to one of the public schools here in Northwest Arkansas and bring food for my students and their friends. While I can get creative and find ways to involve myself in the lives of our students on campus, the most important thing for me to do is to pray that God will raise up godly teachers, coaches, administrators and staff that will share Jesus with them. If I believe that the Holy Spirit works in the lives of believers, I can believe that He will use all types of men and women to present Jesus to the lost. I am reminded of what Jesus said: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send our laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2 ESV)
Sharing Jesus with our students starts with prayer. We must humbly bow to the Father and trust Him to work. Let’s pray for God to work in big and miraculous ways. Our students need Jesus more than anything else in this life.