Anyone who has spoken in front of a group of adolescents knows how daunting the task can be, even if you have a passion and heart for working with teens. Since they are literally between childhood and adulthood, they are a unique kind of audience or congregation to work with. In addition, many of the teens we are trying to reach are at least passively ignoring of our Gospel message, or at worse, hostile to it. Nothing like the cynicism and hypocrisy sensitivity of an adolescent! But with the proper techniques, modeled on the way Jesus ministered and many communication skills borrowed from modern clinical counseling, we can begin to present messages in such a way to students that have the potential to move them forward to seeking deeper teachings and strong faith. All too often, youth ministers struggle with how direct to make their Gospel messages. Too direct and forceful, and students in the crowd that are already turned off to ‘religion’ will never come back. Too vague and weak, and those hungry for the Word will not get fed, and we may walk away with a lousy feeling of not having presented the Good News. Take heart; there is a method based in context and technique that works. Furthermore, this method comes directly from the man Himself. If we pay attention to the how and the dynamic that Jesus uses in His ministry with people, we can learn a great deal. In addition, the context that Jesus uses when He does His work is also informative to us modern day evangelists. Why reinvent the wheel? Why try to improve on what the Master does? Let’s take a closer look at how Jesus does what He does, the dynamic between He and others, the contexts in which He does it, and some specific skills gleaned from clinical counseling. First, let’s look at the contexts. At the time of Jesus, there were few entertainments. When a good speaker is in the area, you want to go and check him out. It’s an attraction; people are curious and enjoy entertaining stuff. And, you can talk with your neighbors for days afterwards about the speaker, adding to the enjoyment. Kind of like first century social media buzz. From there, Jesus might get an offer to come to someone’s house for dinner (so a smaller group can hang with the celebrity). There, of course, in a more intimate setting, Jesus takes steps even closer to those listening and interacting with Him. Finally, a few folks, excited and touched by what He has said and done, want to catch Him alone for a one-on-one; ‘Just a moment, Jesus, can I have a word?’ And oh yes, He gave them the Word, right? When Jesus speaks, He tends not to unload the whole truth upon those who are listening to Him. He knows that they just are not ready nor can they absorb the whole (wonderful) truth in one bite. Jesus clearly first develops a warm and positive (even using humor) relationship with people. He deeply recognizes their hunger and pain. Through the relationship, He begins to express compassion, care, and love. This draws the listener in. As a counselor, I do the same thing by using skills I have learned and honed through the years: I listen to the other, agree with them that they are in pain, and begin to demonstrate my listening by reflecting their thoughts and emotions back to them. By doing this, I am able to ‘join’ with the counselee, helping them feel comfortable and trusting of me. Only when the individual arrives at a certain point in the exchange do they begin to be in a place where they can start to hear me. At this point in the process, I am able to offer teaching about Jesus. I also am sure to remind the individual of how greatly they are loved and how precious they are to God. Neither I nor counseling invented this approach. We can see in the Gospels how Jesus does the very same thing: he gently and positively moves through the listener’s resistance, seeking out the pain in their life. He affirms their pain and hunger. They begin to listen to Him. Once they feel His compassion and love, they are hooked (or netted, if you will).