Should We Use End Times To Inspire Our Teenagers To Live For Christ?
I'll never forget the first time I watched a Christian movie on the Rapture. It was a 1972 poorly produced film called "A Thief in the Night."
Greg Stier is founder and president of Dare 2 Share Ministries (D2S), a ministry that equips teenagers to relationally share their faith. Greg has trained over a million teens and adults in the last 20 years. A former Pastor, church planter and youth leader, he is the author of 16 books and numerous curriculum. He and Debbie have been married for 24 years. They have two children.
But what this movie lacked in production quality it made up for in premise...
When Jesus comes back you should be ready or you will be left behind. The song in the movie still pops in my head from time to time. It's Larry Norman's "I'd wish we'd all been ready." Here are the cryptic, catchy lyrics,"Life was filled with guns and war
"Life was filled with guns and war And all of us got trampled on the floor I wish we'd all been ready. The children died, the days grew cold A piece of bread could buy a bag of gold I wish wed all been ready. There's no time to change your mind The son has come and you've been left behind. A man and wife asleep in bed She hears a noise and turns her head he's gone I wish we'd all been ready. Two men walking up a hill One disappears and ones left standing still I wish wed all been ready. The father spoke, the demons dined How could you have been so blind? There's no time to change your mind The son has come and you've been left behind There's no time to change your mind The son has come and you've been left behind I hope we'll all be ready You've been left behind." This movie set the bar low for the long-line of cheesy Christian movies that would follow. But, in spite of
This movie set the bar low for the long-line of cheesy Christian movies that would follow. But, in spite of it's poor production quality, it had it's desired effect. A Thief in the Night scared the living tar out of everyone who watched it...including me.
No, I wasn't afraid of being left behind. I had put my faith in Jesus and was sure of my salvation. But I was afraid of others being left behind. And that righteous fear became part of my evangelistic fuel.
Yes, I come from a pre-tribulational, pre-millennial, pre-everthing background. The dispensational, fundamental teaching I was raised on ingrained in me an urgency factor when it came to evangelism (because Jesus could come back at any time) and a readiness factor when it came to personal holiness (because Jesus could come back at any time.) This urgency helped shape both me and the ministry I lead today, Dare 2 Share.
While the Lord has enabled me to scrape off many of the legalistic views I was raised in, by his grace, I've been able to keep much of my urgency. And I'm deeply thankful for that.
Regardless of your eschatological leanings most of us can agree that a primary purpose of prophecy is to be ready for the return of Jesus. The Lord himself said, "Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming" Matthew 24:42.
We must be on the alert. We must be ready. We must be sharing Jesus.
So how does the reality of the impending return of Christ help fuel teenagers spiritually? In the same way it fueled me when I was a teenager. It sparks urgency in them!
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Use natural phenomenons (blood moons, solar eclipses, etc), natural disasters (floods, hurricanes and earthquakes), wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6-8) as an excuse to talk about end-times readiness. Of course, along with this, we want to do what we can about helping those who are hurt by them now. But we don't want to miss the opportunity to point to the skies and say, "What if today is the day that Jesus returns?"
Obviously this requires wisdom and balance. In no way to we want to listen to the date-setting, fearmongering koo-koo-catchoos out there. But we don't want to miss the point of what Jesus was reminding his disciples of either. He was reminding them and us to be ready and to make sure everyone we know is ready, because he is coming back someday when we don't expect it.
Consider doing a series on end-times prophecy in youth group. Maybe you could show a cheesy end-times movie and then have a serious open Bible disciussion about it afterward. Perhaps you could invite someone in who is a Biblically solid end-times prophecy teacher and let your teenagers do a Q & A session with him or her.
Whatever you do don't avoid the subject. It provides a much-needed DNA strand to our motivational muscle. It can help fuel holy living and Gospel giving.
On September 23rd we are doing Dare 2 Share Live, an unprecedented live simulcast event in 70 cities across the nation. We are praying that we can inspire, equip and unleash 50,000 teenagers to have 300,000 Gospel conversations in a single day!
Someone asked me recently, "Did you choose the date because some are saying the apocalypse will begin on September 23rd?" They went on to explain that there are a whole bunch of end-timers online saying that September 23rd will mark the beginning of the end.
My answer to them was, "No, we didn't pick September 23rd because of any other reason that it happened to be the Saturday before See You at the Pole. That is the only reason."
But, to be honest, down deep inside I think it's kinda cool that Dare 2 Share Livehappens to be on a date that some people are buzzing about. It adds to the "what if?" factor. Do I think that September 23rd will mark the return of Christ? Nope. But do I think I should live everday like it could be that day? YES!
Let's use every Biblical truth possible to motivate our teenagers to live for Christ and share the Gospel! Let's help build the urgency DNA in each of them. Let's do it in a way that smacks of urgency, not insanity.
Hope to see you and your teenagers on September 23rd at Dare 2 Share Live.
Don't be left behind! ;)
This article was written by Greg Stier and originally appeared at his blog. Find it here.