I had one of those moments recently. You know the kind, I-grew-up-in-church-my-whole-life-but-never-noticed-this-in-the-Bible-before moments. I’m not the only one that has those moments, right? It was during a sermon looking at the rich young ruler in Luke 18 and then the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19. Anybody else ever notice the parallels between those two stories? Did you realize that they were just one chapter away in the Bible? Pretty cool, but I’ll let you dig further into that on your own.
What really stood out to me was from Zacchaeus’ story. Zacchaeus wasn’t changed by the list of rules that the rich young ruler tried to keep. What changed Zacchaeus was seeing and having an encounter with Jesus. Isn’t that such good news for those of who want to be used by God for His Kingdom purposes?
We aren’t pointing people to a list of rules but to experience our Savior! And isn’t that one of the reasons we love ministering with young adults? They are turned off by a “just do this because that’s the way it’s supposed to be” approach but they are like sponges when it comes to interacting with the person of Jesus! What a privilege we have to point young adults to Jesus at such a critical time in their lives.
Here are three ways I think we can emphasize helping young adults see Jesus:
1. Ask lots of questions.
Don’t fall to the temptation of just talking at young adults during your designated teaching times with them. Emphasize opportunities to ask questions and give them time to think and respond. Once this becomes part of your ministry culture, you will see young adults become more engaged and really grapple with the truths you are teaching which will lead to fruit in their lives.
2. Emphasize life on life discipleship.
Look for ways to let young adults gain access into your life. If they only spend time with you during a Sunday School lesson, they will never see how you interact with your spouse, lead your children, or treat a restaurant server. Real life situations open up opportunities to see the true life of a disciple and lead to conversations about Jesus that may never happen in a classroom setting.
3. Offer a safe place to fail.
Give young adults a chance to lead out in ministry and be there for them if they fail. If they drop the ball, don’t just move on and recruit another leader. Instead, make sure they know you believe in them and take the time to talk through what they think went wrong and how they might do things differently in the future. This kind of grace and hands-on discipleship shows up in Jesus’ relationships with the disciples all throughout the Gospels, but may be rare in the experiences of young adults.
If I peaked your interest, go ahead and take another look at Luke 18 and 19. Also be encouraged: those of you who minister to young adults are sovereignly placed to impact the Kingdom as you help young adults see Jesus through your interactions with them.
Bill Noe is the event coordinator for LifeWay Young Adults and LifeWay Men. A former campus minister, Bill loves creating experiences that allow college students to grow in their walk with the Lord.