Passing the Baton
What is the gospel? It’s a deeply important question. It’s a question that takes us to the very heart of our faith.
One of the clearest definitions of the gospel that I’ve heard comes from one of my former pastors, Dave Miers, who defines the gospel as “…the good news that God saves sinners and restores all things through the perfect life, sacrificial death, triumphant resurrection, and glorious ascension of King Jesus, who is currently seated at the right hand of the Father; from where he will come to judge the living and the dead”.
This is a good summary of the good news. But perhaps a more important question is: Do you believe it? Do you truly believe the gospel?
The reason I ask is because at any given point in time, we are only ever one generation away from losing this gospel.
Now, that might sound dramatic, but it is true! It is incredibly easy to just assume the gospel message which, according to Carl Laferton, “…leads to losing the gospel.” He continues, “One generation loves the gospel; the next assumes it; the third doesn’t know it, but thinks it does; the fourth leaves the church.”
That is a scary thought, right?
So how do we avoid it? The answer is simple – keep the gospel on repeat.
One of the great Reformers, Martin Luther said, “The gospel cannot be preached and heard enough, for it cannot be grasped well enough… Moreover, our greatest task is to keep you faithful to this article and to bequeath this treasure to you when we die.”
If your trust is in Jesus, then you have but one primary responsibility – preach the gospel. Always. Now, that might be oversimplifying it a little, but when it comes to eternal significance, all our other responsibilities in life pale in comparison to that of proclaiming the good news of Jesus.
However, it is not just proclaiming the gospel that matters. Living it out is just as important. People are smart. They know that if something is supposed to be good, life changing news, then that news will have a visible impact on a person’s life. If there is no impact, is it as good or life changing as they claim it to be?
In the 1890’s, an Irish woman by the name of Amy Carmichael went to Japan as a missionary. One of the most memorable encounters that she had over there was with a Buddhist monk. After telling him the good news of Jesus, the monk said to her, “If this be so, you are as an angel from heaven to us; but if it be so, we want to see it lived; can you show it to us?”
Do the words you say and the life you live declare the good news of Jesus? Our lives need to match our words, so that others can see and understand that the gospel really is good news. May we daily declare and live out the gospel, reminding ourselves of our need for Jesus and of God’s provision of a Saviour. At the same time, may we also pass this message on like a baton in a relay race.
Each generation needs to hear the gospel, and they need to hear it from us – that is, they need to hear the good news from you and I. The moment we assume that someone else will tell them the good news of Jesus, we have already lost. I love the intergenerational aspect of Oasis Church. I think it is wonderful to see people of all stages of life coming together for the sake of the gospel. Let us ensure that that is why we are coming together. As followers of Jesus, we are not just another social club that hangs out on Sundays and throughout the week. We have been tasked with an incredibly high-stakes responsibility – keeping the gospel on repeat.
The baton of the gospel needs to be passed on to those around us. A lot of the time, we can focus on sharing the gospel with those we engage with who are in our natural spheres of influence – our colleagues, fellow club members, family, and other peers. This is important, for sure. However, can I challenge you to consider investing more time and energy into keeping the gospel on repeat for, and passing the baton on to, the next generations?
We want all people to come to know Jesus, and there are certainly some circumstances which are more easily accessible and convenient than others. Youth and Kids ministries are two of the more challenging areas of gospel ministry and yet they are such critical ministry areas. Can you imagine a church without any youth and kids in it? Where would the next generation of Christians come from, if not from them? These young people are in their most formative years. From a youth ministry perspective, teens are dealing with puberty and hormones. They are dealing with the pressures of study and peers. They test boundaries as they seek to become more independent. Some come from dysfunctional families. They are all working out for themselves who they are and how they fit in this world.
They need to hear the gospel and they need to see gospel-impacted lives – not just from those who are a year or two ahead of them and not just from their parents, but also from those in their church community who have weathered all sorts of storms in life and continue to trust in Jesus. They need to hear and see that the good news of Jesus really is good news – they need to hear and see that trusting in Jesus really does help to make sense of life.
Our young people need deep, relational, gospel investment. This is why at Oasis Youth our goal is to have enough leaders so that leaders can journey with youth from Grade 7 all the way to Grade 12. This means that we need a team of at least 24 leaders who are committed to showing up and discipling young people week-in and week-out on Friday nights during school-term time. We already have a number of dedicated leaders who are part of our team, but we have need for another 12 leaders. We have a vision of one day filling the church auditorium with youth every Friday night. Can you imagine what that’s going to be like?! And we have the youth in the area too. Genesis Christian College has over 600 high school students, and Bray Park State High School has over 1,500 students. The harvest truly is plentiful, but the workers are few.
Would you join us in our mission to help more young people find life in Jesus?
There are certainly challenges to next generational ministry, but it is incredibly rewarding to have the privilege of doing life and keeping the gospel on repeat with these young people. If you’d like to hear more about what it means to be part of the team, I would love to grab a coffee with you. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or come and speak to me on Sunday.
While my invitation is for you to join us in keeping the gospel on repeat for the next generations, I exhort all of you to keep the gospel on repeat no matter where you are or who you are with for, as Luther said, “it can never be grasped well enough.”
Keep trusting Jesus,