Why Don't We?
If it is true as Dick Lucas says that "one of the clearest lessons of Acts is that the Word of God on the lips of his servants is the supreme secret of missionary advance (Acts 6:7; 12:24; 13:49; 19:20)" then why isn't there a greater emphasis on teaching and preaching the Word of God as well as training people in how to teach and preach the Word of God in youth parachurch ministries? Is it because of a false understanding of the incarnation as applied to us and this is now our controlling paradigm? We often hear youth ministry people talk about incarnational ministry or "you are Jesus with skin on," but the fact is that we are not. Jesus is Jesus and we are not Jesus [for more on the roots of this idea in early 20th century liberal theology see this excellent book edited by David Peterson: The Word Became Flesh: Evangelicals And The Incarnation (2003)]. We are to take our cue from the apostles who preached about Jesus, who hearalded the good news wherever they went and whenever they could. The gospel is advanced, people are saved, and people are sanctified through the preaching of God's Word in the power of His Spirit. Let's look at the Acts passages above:
Acts 6:7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
Acts 12:24: But the word of God increased and multiplied.
Acts 13:49: And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.
Acts 19:20: So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.
This preaching occurred among Jews and Greeks in a very relativistic and "postmodern" society with a multiplicity of gods, goddesses, religions, and worldviews. Instead of abandoning the preaching and teaching of God's words to pagan youth today saying something like "that doesn't work anymore," why don't we see how we can do it better. Why don't we take the principles that Paul used and equip a new generation of youth workers to preach the gospel boldly with broken hearts:
Jesus "is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead....that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name" (Acts 10:42-43).
For more on the principles of Paul in preaching see this excellent article by Dick Lucas called "Preaching to Pagans."