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Click to Accept

26 Apr Student Ministry, Teaching | Comments Off on Click to Accept
Click to Accept
 

Nobody Reads the ToS.

When was the last time you gave electronic permission through a ToS? You might even be asking, “What’s a ToS?” Chances are you’ve seen them all the time and have never stopped to think about them. A ToS, if you haven’t Googled it yet is a “Terms of Service” and it’s what you legally agree to be bound by when you click “I accept.”

Someone paid a lot of money to some lawyers in order for you to agree to those terms and conditions. Electronically, it’s that little window that pops up with a very small portal into a huge document explaining everything that you must agree to have read and understood in order to use whatever program you’re trying to install and use. My latest encounter came with an update for iTunes.

If I’m honest, I almost never read the terms and conditions in their entirety (or at all for that matter). I just click the “I accept” button as quickly as possible and move on.

I accept.

A few days ago I was telling a story about the first time I shared the gospel with someone at an outreach event. It was a massive overnighter that our church held at the local YMCA. I vividly remember sitting with another student just a year or two younger than myself after the main session. He had raised his hand because he wanted to talk to someone about the message. I was equally nervous and excited. What a privilege to be able to explain the good news of Jesus. What a heavy responsibility.

I remember talking through a few simple points of truth and trying to pull it all together. My goal of course was to help this kid “make a decision”. I think my nervousness took over because I started repeating myself and sounding a little desperate. I didn’t want to force this kid into heaven, but how could he say no? In the end, I think I pushed him until he said “the prayer”. He must have realized that there was no getting away from me without the right answer.

As I was telling the story, I had to pause for a moment as the image of the ToS “Click to Accept” box came to mind. My experience with that guy as I tried to share the gospel during the wee hours of that overnighter felt a lot like a ToS. Here he was in the moment being pressed to accept or decline. Here he was being asked to instantaneously understand and act upon what would ultimately be the most life-changing, paradigm-flipping, soul-searching, revolutionary story of his entire life…

“Do you accept?”

I have no idea who that kid was. I don’t remember his name or where he went to school. I probably didn’t say another word to him during the rest of the overnighter. I never saw him again, and looking back, I would say that all I gave him that night was a kind of “Click to Accept” evangelism and discipleship. There were no details. There was no depth. There was no understanding of the specifics or even the general sections. There was no time to sit with, ponder, or consider. And the way I was leaning into him, there was probably no safe way to click, “No thanks.”

Avoiding “Click to Accept” Discipleship

Let me share 3 quick ideas that might help as you train your students to share the gospel with their friends.

1. Read the fine print.

Yep, it’s a lot of information. The best person for your students to reach out to at your next outreach is someone they have been spending time with; someone who has started reading the terms and conditions, or at least someone who’s seen the difference it’s made in their friends. When you encourage your students to share the gospel with their peers, what are you emphasizing? Is it the “click to accept” or transforming presence of Jesus?

2. It’s okay to say, “No Thanks”

Do you students know that it’s okay for their friends and classmates to say, “No”? Are they able to see evangelism as both a moment and a journey? Sometimes crossing the line of faith isn’t as clear as a specific conversation sitting on a basketball court in the YMCA; sometimes it’s an unfolding that takes place through a series of moments, encounters, and conversations. Our challenge is to equip our students to see that evangelism is often a process built around ongoing relationships.

3. What happens next?

I always wondered what happened to the people in church who raised their hands at the end of the service when no one was supposed to be looking around. What happened if they raised their hand? What happened if they gave the pew card to an usher on the way out? I still wonder what happened to that kid I talked to at the overnighter. I wish I had the opportunity to stay connected to him. I wish discipleship had been the next step, that I had the opportunity to follow up in a sincere, meaningful way. As you plan events and opportunities for the gospel to be presented, what’s the next step? Do your leaders know? Do your students know? Have you equipped them to help walk someone through that process?

In the end, the gospel is about a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ, not a contract with terms and conditions to agree to. As we present it and invite people to respond, we’ve got to make it more than just clicking “I accept.”

Ben Myers
Camp Director at Arrowhead Bible Camp
Ben Myers has served as the Camp Director at Arrowhead Bible Camp in Brackney, PA for the past 13 years. Arrowhead is a ministry committed to discipleship through its programs for adults with developmental disabilities, missions opportunities for youth groups, and mentoring of High School and College students. Ben also teaches as an adjunct professor at Lancaster Bible College and holds degrees from Cairn University and Baptist Bible Seminary.