Using the “Two Ways to Live” Model to Help Teenagers Know Jesus
I am not a gifted evangelist. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jesus and want to tell people about him. One the best parts of my job is opening the Bible with college students and young adults to talk with them about Jesus. But the idea of evangelism scares me. The thought of telling strangers and friends about the good news of the gospel makes me nervous. My reluctance doesn’t mean I can sit back and do nothing, however. We are called to share the truth of the gospel and live in such a way that points people to Jesus. (Matt. 5:14-16, Phil. 2:14-16, 1 Pet. 2:12, 3:15) So, if there are tools that can help me in this task, I am all ears!
“Two Ways to Live” (TWTL) is an evangelistic tool that I have found to be very helpful in explaining the good news of Jesus to others. Written by Phillip Jensen and Tony Payne, and developed by MatthiasMedia, TWTL is a brief outline of the gospel set within the context of the overarching story of the Bible.
The TWTL evangelism model is presented in six boxes. Each box contains a key point, a picture to illustrate the point, and a verse from Scripture that demonstrates the point. These six boxes explain the fundamental truths that Christians believe and that one must understand in order to be brought into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
Here is a quick summary of the content within the six boxes:
- The first box establishes that God is the creator of the world and that he is the rightful ruler over it. He also created us in his image to rule over the world under his ultimate rule. We see this expressed in the book of Revelation “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Rev. 4:11).
- The problem is that we all reject God’s rule over our lives. We all want to be in charge of ourselves. We all want to be the boss and make the decisions. This rebellion is what the Bible calls sin. We read about it in Romans 3: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Rom. 3:10-12).
- The bad news is, our rebellion can’t last forever. Although God is patient with us, our rebellion rightly deserves God’s punishment, which is death and judgment. So Hebrews says, “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Heb.9:27).
- The good news is this: In love, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world, that through him he might offer forgiveness of sins. Through Jesus’ death on the cross, our rebellion can be forgiven and we can be in relationship with God. As Peter writes, “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18).
- Jesus didn’t remain dead, but God raised him to new life and has appointed him ruler over all the world. He will return one day to judge the world and to bring in the new creation. So, we read, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3).
- This leaves us with a choice, We can continue to live our own rebellious way: Rejecting God, the ruler of the world and trying to rule ourselves. This will result in God’s punishment: death and judgement. Or, we can live in God’s new way: Submitting our lives to Jesus, as our ruler, putting our trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection. This will result in being forgiven by God and in receiving the gift of eternal life. As John the Baptist says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (Jn, 3:36).
I have found that the best way to work through TWTL is to draw two rows of three boxes. As you explain each point, you can draw the corresponding picture and verse in each box, with points one through three on the top row of boxes, and points four through six on the bottom row of boxes. This alone gives the visual of the two ways to live, either in rebellion against God (top row) or submitting to God’s rule over your life in Jesus Christ (bottom row). You can do this on a piece of paper as you share it with a student over coffee, or you could write it on a white board as you explain it to a small group or a Sunday school class.
When I am sharing TWTL with someone, I often find it helpful to begin by explaining that I would like to share a short explanation of the gospel, and then proceed to walk through all six boxes in order; however, you don’t have to do it this way. The beauty of the simplicity of TWTL is that the image and box combination allow for easy memorization. When you are in a conversation with a teenager who is new to Christianity, you can easily explain the good news of the gospel without having to draw all the boxes. Or if you have it more or less committed to memory, you can connect one of the later boxes with your present conversation and then explain the rest of the boxes from that one.
For example, as I was meeting with someone over lunch recently, he expressed that although he believes in God and considers himself a Christian, he wasn’t making time for God in his life. I shared TWTL, using the tract produced by MatthiasMedia, and explained that it sounded like he had been trying to live life without God, being the ruler over his own life. He agreed and committed to reassessing the place that God has in his life. While I’d like to say that this person immediately repented and surrendered his life to Christ, it doesn’t always happen so quickly. Still, using TWTL opened up the conversation, planting a seed for the gospel. Whether I get to water that seed or someone else does, I pray that God will give the growth (1 Cor. 3:6-7).
“Two Ways to Live” is not a gimmick, nor is it some sort of evangelism magic. If you are anything like me, sharing the gospel will still feel awkward and somewhat clumsy. But it is a good resource that can help you to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with your students.
So, even if God has not gifted you to be a great evangelist like Billy Graham or George Whitefield, I would encourage and challenge you to use Two Ways to Live in a conversation with a student. You can start small by practicing it with your student leaders, beginning to memorize the six boxes. Then pray that God would give you the opportunities and boldness the Holy Spirit gave the apostles (Acts 4:31) to share with teenagers who have never heard or understood the good news of Jesus Christ before.
 At the time of writing this article, Tony Payne is in the process of updating the Two Ways to Live model.
 Tony Payne gives an example presentation of Two Ways to live here (though it is a bit dated):
YouTube, “Two Ways To Live.” Accessed Dec. 22, 2020. https://youtu.be/kbcvuu8lCFg.