Contextualizing the Gospel with Daniel Rice

Lee Lethers Podcast

Why do students walk away from their faith after college? Can we do anything about it?

Throughout his 13 years of involvement in ministry, Daniel found one thing in common: some kids that used to be on fire for God would lose interest during college. Daniel wanted someone to write a book so students would be encouraged to take their faith into their own hands with intentional steps. This is the same thing Paul writes to his churches in the Bible. In Acts 17, Paul uses Athens’ culture to present the gospel. Contextualization does not change the theology, just the presentation. It is every generation’s job to repackage the gospel in their culture, so their own generation does not dismiss it. #Gospel takes the book of Romans and packages it in today’s culture.

Some say we have moved from being an Acts 2 culture, a culture familiar to God, to an Acts 17 culture, a culture that is unfamiliar with God.  Where would you (Daniel) say our culture is at?

Our culture has moved to becoming a more hostile environment. Many people are angry at organized religion, and we really can’t blame them. We are all sinners, and culturally, “Christianity” has negative baggage. We can only cut through the baggage by loving people genuinely and selflessly.

Not many Gen Z students plan to drift from the church. It just tends to happen when they don’t plug in the way they need to. Then they have to face a culture that is hostile towards religion on their own. Jesus had a parable about this phenomenon: the parable of the seed and the sower (Matt. 13, Mark 4, Luke 8). Some seeds were choked out by the cares of the world and deceitfulness of riches. Our environment is always trying to choke out the light of the gospel in our students.

Practical steps as a youth leader: How can I help my students?

  1. Prayer! – This is needed for anything significant to happen. Active and faithful prayer over time is powerful. Gather together to pray. The power of prayer comes from our powerful God.

-If this is a cliché easy answer, why do we still not do it?

  1. Get rid of the tendency to not think logically when it comes to faith – the two are not incompatible. Teach your kids about the sensibleness and reasonableness of our faith. Science and the Bible are not at odds.
  2. Love – Nothing makes an changing impact like love. Love is how we can tell if someone believes in Jesus. Arguments will rarely change someone’s mind, but God uses genuine and selfless love in the lives of others to bring them to faith. Love God and love others.

Prayer and love need to be a part of the culture of your youth ministry. Evaluate your own heart, mind, and ministry. If practicing prayer and love comes first, the how-to steps will take care of themselves.

How do we teach kids and adults what the Christian life looks like? Motive is important.

Teach kids daily repentance (because everyone will always struggle with sin), daily submission to God (even though it is against our self-focused nature) and dependence on God to work in us (and not by our own power – Phil. 1:6). That is the gospel. Abide in Christ, and the fruit will come.

Closing Thoughts:

Repent. Submit. Depend. Recalibrate our perspective: if God is the rescuer and we are the rescued, He still wants us on that rescue team.

We are pleasing to God because of what Jesus Christ has done for us. Love your students, contextualize the gospel and help them reach their friends with the gospel as well.

Daniel’s resources: #Gospel

#Gospel book – available anywhere. If you need a bulk order for your ministry, call and ask if we can get you a discount.

Website: hashtaggospel.com – free resources

#Gospel Social Media – we use it to encourage and recalibrate focus and provide free resources.

#Gospel Group Study Guide App – one of our free resources.