Students are asked many questions every day. These questions come up in conversations and involve schoolwork, pertain to activities with their friends, and even how to navigate family life. Students are also asking and trying to answer deep questions about creation, God, religion, and how everything in the world fits together. Greg Gilbert’s book “What is the Gospel?” is a helpful and practical book to put into the hands of our students. It is a clear, concise, and applicable book serving as a great resource for students currently involved in our ministries and those who only attend special events.
The gospel is the greatest news in the world and many teenagers are not sure how to define it. This is not good. Students must know the reality of the gospel if they want to have a right relationship with God. In this important book, Gilbert explains that “First the bad news; God is your Judge, and you have sinned against him. And then the gospel; but Jesus has died so that sinners may be forgiven of their sins if they will repent and believe in him”(38).
The framework in this book is easy to follow and commit to memory. Gilbert uses four main words to describe the gospel: God, Man, Jesus, Response. This framework assumes a big view of God as the creator of all things, including men and women. Unfortunately, humans broke their pure relationship with God by sinning. Gilbert explains that “according to the Bible, sin is a lot more than just the violation of some impersonal, arbitrary, heavenly traffic regulation. It’s the breaking of a relationship, and even more, it is a rejection of God himself”(48). Thankfully God did not leave humans alone and unable to know Him, but sent Jesus into the world to save men from their sins. The Bible explains in 1 Peter 3:18 that “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” The last step in this framework is responding to this good news. Gilbert writes “That command-repent and believe-is what God requires of us in response to the good news of Jesus”(73).
There are two easy ways to use this resource. First, this is a great resource to put at the door when students exit at events that are primarily outreach driven. Students love free things, including books. If a student would read even a portion of this book, then they have the potential to grow in knowledge of the gospel and to know God more. Second, this is a great book to offer students who regularly attend our ministries. It can be easy to assume that students know the gospel, when in reality they are still figuring out what it is and how it applies to their life. This resource can help serve as a foundation for conversations between youth workers and students about the greatest news in the world.
Crossway Publishing and 9Marks Ministries have published several concise books that are primarily aimed at pastors and ministry leaders. I highly recommend reading them with your student ministry team and discussing how these theological frameworks can shape how you lead in your student ministry.
About the Author: Kyle Hoffsmith serves as the pastor of student ministries at Old North Church in Youngstown, Ohio. He loves teaching students about Christ and equipping them for a life long relationship with Him. You can follow him on twitter @kyle_hoffsmith.