Tuesday, September 2, 2008

preaching hell to teenagers

How should we present the gospel to teenagers?

My husband was once asked to give some evangelistic talks to teenagers at a youth group camp. He was criticised for mentioning hell and God's judgement.

So I was interested to see that Tedd Tripp, in his excellent book Shepherding a Child's Heart, argues that the main part of the Bible teenagers need to hear is the major and minor prophets. This is so they will learn that God is "a consuming fire". As they learn the fear of God, their fear of man - of their peers - will lessen (pp. 187-9).

I heard the story recently of two men who became Christians as teenagers partly because of the doctrine of hell. Gordon describes his experience in preaching hell to depressed teens. Peter Jensen said of his conversion as a teenager:"The thing that appealed to me first was that God judges."

The fear of God's judgement is written deeply on our hearts, children, teenagers and adults. We can deny it, or we can address it, as Jesus does, with honesty and conviction. As we learn about our desperate situation, we also learn to flee to Christ, and to find grace and hope in the cross.

image is from stock.xchng


mattnbec said...

At one of our previous churches a number of testimonies were given and I remember hearing the phrase "I became a Christian because I was scared of going to hell" a good number of times. Particularly from those who grew up in Christian homes.

Laetitia :-) said...

I did the "Way of the Master" course last year. It focuses on how if we tell people to become a Christian because God is love and they'll have peace and joy, they have no context and no root - when trials come they fall away and are inoculated against the gospel. However, if they know that the fires of hell are real then they'll keep hanging onto the 'parachute' of Jesus even when all the other passengers on the 'plane' (life) are laughing at them. Good on your husband for giving it to them straight.