Handing on faith with young people is not a matter of giving them Jesus, as though he were ours to give, or as though Christ’s presence in their lives depends on us. Approaching mission as translation assumes Christ is already present in their lives, even those without noticeable faith, long before we arrive on the scene. Nor is translation lifeless replication. The gospel of Jesus Christ is God’s living translation—and requires living translations as well, people who offer us fresh perspectives on Jesus, on young people, and on the church itself.
I occasionally have someone tell me that, as Chaplain to 200 or so at-risk youth, I should “just give them Jesus.” Sometimes this is said with a tone of voice that infers hellfire-and-damnation. More often, it is comes across as a sincere desire for these kids to enter a relationship with Jesus.
Either way, it really isn’t just a matter of me, or you, “giving them Jesus.” Is it?