We Cannot Force Kids to Become Christians

Posted on by Seattle YFC

By Joe Wiederhold, Ministry Director in Stanwood, WA

Robert Coleman, author of The Master Plan of Evangelism, referred to Jesus’ imperfect band of disciples as “easily offended, unlearned, and temperamental.” However, Jesus saw the potential for these men to become great leaders for God. Coleman writes, “What is perhaps most significant about the disciples was their sincere yearning for God and the realities of his life.” YFC kids are hungry for something real, a relationship with the living Christ. They sense the presence of Jesus in the lives of our leaders and not only do they want to be part of this, they invite their friends into it as well!        

I believe, like John Wesley did before me, that Christian discipleship is a process. No matter what YFC, the church, or I do, we cannot force young people to become Christians. Looking back on my own story, I can see that God worked divinely through many different people and experiences to draw me closer to Him. For me it all happened in September of 1996 when I committed my life to following and serving Jesus, after a summer spent recovering from a logging accident that nearly killed me. I was actively pursuing God and was also volunteering as a middle school youth leader. I thoroughly enjoyed the relationships I was building with my middle school guys and this eventually developed into a calling to youth ministry.  However, on the weekends I was still partying and straying from God nearly every chance I had. But God still invited me to participate in the work He was doing.

This is why I love ministry at The Spot in Stanwood.  The Spot is a drop-in center that gives teens a safe place to hear about the Gospel, regardless of their previous life choices. We work with many teens from tough places that don’t easily fit in at school or in church. These teens often use foul language, smoke cigarettes, and engage in media that is offensive, but we love and engage them anyway. This January, I recruited several teens from The Spot to be a part of our student leadership team. However, not all of these kids are polished Christians. They may be rough around the edges, but they have been inviting friends, helping with set up and standing up in front of their peers to co-lead discussions and activities. God sees the same kind of potential for these students to become great leaders as he did with his disciples. Becoming a Christian is a process, not a one-time event. I, myself, am still being molded and perfected by Christ daily and am excited to see God work within the hearts of our students and provide opportunities for us leaders to help disciple them along the way. Thanks be to God!

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