So Paul writes something pretty cool in his first letter to the church at Thessalonica. We find this in chapter 2, verse 8.
So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
What Paul says here is critical in our understanding of sharing (discipleship/evangelism) the Gospel to middle school students. Such concrete thinkers need to not only hear your words but share your life. It is so cool seeing Paul describe how the church had become so dear to him, that he says literally he wants to share himself with them. That is crazy – something only Jesus can make us desire to do. I am super selfish. But Jesus did something in me – the way he worked in Paul – I tend to desire to be with middle schoolers. It doesn’t make sense at times.
After five years in the middle school realm of North Canton, OH I feel like a sixth grader sometimes. I know the places to hang out, I know which football teams play which day – who the good teams are and who sucks. I can tell you which girls hang out at the YMCA after school each day – and because of this which guys will go there as well. I can tell you who likes going skating on Friday nights and who prefers Wednesday night. I can tell you who won’t be there because they feel unloved and who goes there to escape their home.
My heart is that these students know Jesus – that they would hear the Gospel. That their lives would be embraced by this good news. But the reality is they are wrapped up in a lot of words – their parents say things, their teachers say things, their coaches say things, their peers say things, Instagram says things – and a lot of this is to make them be something or someone for a specific reason or in a way they could never live up to. Very few influences in their life are there for them regardless of what they’ve done or what is going on at home or what they can do for that person.
The Gospel must be audible – but sometimes middle schoolers need someone to share more than just words with them. In the next few days I am going to break down some practical ways to do this. But let us all strive to be like Jesus, to follow Paul’s example in following Jesus – let us share both the Gospel and our lives with middle school students so that they would know and embrace our Lord and Savior.