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Expressing and Experiencing the Gospel

05 Jul Student Ministry | Comments Off on Expressing and Experiencing the Gospel
Expressing and Experiencing the Gospel
 

As “professional” communicators of the Gospel many of us have spent years intensely studying and learning how to invite others to follow Jesus.    We’ve read books, rehearsed presentations, perhaps even taught others how to share it. The Gospel is our passion, in many ways; it’s our craft, ministry, even our job.  For many of us communicating the truth of God’s Word is both challenging and exhilarating. It is a profound privilege to experience the transformation of a heart as God calls someone from darkness into light.

Unfortunately, sometimes our best creative intentions can still fall short. They can come across awkward, forced, even campy. I’m sure you can remember at some point along the way memorizing some simple presentation to use when evangelizing your unsaved friends. And while God is certainly able to use a spiritual survey, baseball field metaphor, or comical tract to reach someone (After all, he used a donkey in a pinch), we have to wonder at what point does our creativity start to get in the way of God’s profound simplicity?

We might even start to ask ourselves,
“Where exactly is the gospel in my gospel message?”

Its important to remember that to be “relevant” doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to “reinvent.” It does, however, mean that we need to represent Christ and His gospel message well. I’ve found it helpful to think through the grid of “expressing the Gospel” and “experiencing the Gospel”. When I’m actively and authentically expressing and experiencing Jesus, I’m able to invite others to do the same. When I’m not, it’s easy to find things getting askew.

As an example, let me share briefly one way in which we’ve recently been able to express and experience the  Gospel as a ministry.

Flower Pots and the Gospel

Summer camp is in full swing here at Arrowhead, but in early June we were just getting started.  We began a few weeks ago with week-long staff training.  Our goal was to prepare our staff for a big summer of ministry, a summer in which they’d be ask to both share and embody the Gospel.  With a few dozen high school and college students on staff, discipleship is of course a major focus of the leadership.  We have the privilege of leading, guiding, challenging and mentoring our summer staff as they care for campers and invite them to experience the good news of Jesus.

Our focus for the week of staff training (and for the summer) was “Redemption”.  Our desire was for the staff to experience the gospel in a way that recognized the radical transformation and restoration that God has brought in their live; the same gospel they would be communicating all summer through their words and their actions.

On the first day of training, we asked the staff to break up into small groups of two or three. Each group was given a small terracotta flower pot.  They painted their flower pots and wrote their names on them.  I then asked each group to break their pot into several pieces.  Over the next four days, as we talked about the redemptive work of the gospel, the staff spent time gluing their flower pots back together.

Each evening during our Intentional Space (time we carve out to spend with God as a staff) we spent time reading scripture and talking about our flower pots as an example of redemption.  We looked at Creation, the Fall, Paul’s letters to the Romans and the church in Colossae.

It didn’t take long for the staff to connect the hours of dedicated work they had spent putting their flower pots back together and God’s story of redemption.  Each one saw themselves in the flower pot that had their name on it, which was now visibly scarred and fractured.  It was obvious that the pots had been broken.  But now, even with the glue marks, leaky joints and cracks their flower pots were holding dirt and a flower.  New life was growing.  Their flower pots had been redeemed.

A few weeks before staff training I did a little test run to make sure the super glue would work on the flower pots.  I took the opportunity to try this creative experience out with my six year old daughter Natalie.  It was a blessing to experience the gospel with her in a simple yet profound way.  As we talked and worked on the flower pot, I asked Natalie, “How does God put us back together?”  She simply stretched out her arms and whispered, “Jesus”.

“Follow Me”

You are passionate and practiced at expressing the gospel, but when was the last time you experienced the gospel or invited others to do the same?  Jesus spoke often of God’s love, His Kingdom, and the reason He had come, but He also invited people to follow Him and experience it.  As the disciples and the crowds walked with Jesus they experienced the gospel in a profound way, that at times seemed very simple… cooking fish by a lake, attending weddings, walking along the road picking stalks of wheat.

I want to challenge you to experience the gospel in a fresh way.  Maybe it’s as simple as having a watchful eye and quite heart the next time you go for a walk outside.  Perhaps you’ll pick up a flower pot and some super glue the next time you are in town.  It may even happen at church this Sunday.  And as you find fresh ways of expressing and experiencing the Gospel, consider some creative ways that you can invite your students to do so as well.

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.