Magazine

Sharing the Full Gospel Story

Sharing the Full Gospel Story

Fall 2019

Sho Baraka

2019 Career Center Ad

At the 2019 Multi-Academic Conference for provosts, campus ministers, and student development professionals, Sho Baraka, artist and co-founder of The AND Campaign, offered a morning devotion on helping the current generation of students connect with and activate their Christian faith. This is the conclusion of that talk; it has been edited for length.

I believe one of the greatest struggles is that when we talk about the Gospel, we don’t start it in Genesis; oftentimes, we start with sin. Part of my problem with that type of evangelism is that when you come to many communities – especially communities with visible brokenness – you don’t have to convince these people that their communities are sinful and broken. They can see it. We need to convince them that God created them for a purpose, and that we were made in his image, and that we have deviated from that.

But when we start with sin for our gospel message, I think we’re not showing people what their purpose is, and how we were made for God’s glory and interaction. … [When we start with Genesis, we see] a relationship with God, a relationship with one another, and a relationship with how we work and how we cultivate. [We see that] God was the center of the story, but because of sin, now we place ourselves on the throne of the narrative. Not only do we remove God, we corrupt our personal relationship with him, and we also pervert our relationship in community. We use relationships for our own benefit. We manipulate people for our own selfish interests. …

But thanks be to God that there is a Savior who is redeeming all things, amen. Jesus has taken center stage, where he belongs, and he’s not only redeeming our personal relationship with God and making right that which was corrupted; he’s also asking us to restore right relationship with one another. …

But the thing that I think we often miss is that he’s also redeeming and restoring how we create and cultivate. And so we need to challenge our students [to help them recognize] that your own personal relationship is not about your personal piety. It’s about how you operate in community and how you create. So the very thing that you study, the very major you’re pursuing – have you considered how that’s going to impact not just your own bank account, but [also] your community, your cities, your nation? Are you working for the flourishing of those things? …

[As a student,] I wanted to live a righteous lifestyle. I wanted to operate in discipleship and evangelism, and I just didn’t know how to do that in the creative world. And so I was like, “Well, maybe in order to be an effective Christian, I just need to be a campus minister,” because no one taught me how to effectively be impactful in the marketplace while being a creative. …

We can no longer suggest that the primary pastime for Christian activity is solely having a quiet time or evangelism in a traditional sense. Engagement in vocation – how [Christians] work, and how they study, and how they operate – is formation of Christian identity. You don’t need to jump on a plane to be a missionary. Some of us need to start being missionaries in our dorm rooms, or in our households, or in our classes. Some of us just need to encourage the students to just get to class on time to be excellent. …

If I can be honest, I don’t really feel like this talk is just for a Generation Z audience. I think this is a useful message for adults because ultimately, you reproduce what you have. … And so, if we want to reach generations that follow us, then we, ourselves, must show the evidence of these principles in our own lives.