What Disciples Should Know About Scripture

The 8 Roots of the Gospel

By Doug Franklin July 24, 2020

You might be surprised to hear that many Bible-believing ministries are not teaching students the Gospel. I don’t mean to say that their teaching isn’t based in Scripture; I mean that many youth ministries give students an incomplete picture of the Gospel at best.

students need more than an incomplete picture

When we lose sight of the core truths of the Gospel and we aren’t sure what to teach students about Scripture, the result is that students graduate from our ministries with critical gaps in their knowledge of the faith.

  • Perhaps your students know the story of Jonah, but they’ve missed the person of Jesus.
  • Maybe your students are avid rule-followers, but they’ve forgotten they’re “saved by grace.”
  • It could be that your students love God, but they know nothing about his true character as described in his Word.
  • Or maybe your students would prefer to create and define their own identities rather than accepting what God says about who they are.

Gaps can take on a number of shapes and sizes, but the results are most often the same. Like seeds planted in rocky soil, students look healthy as they sprout up, but many will soon wither away and fall to the wayside because they weren’t rooted deep in the soil.

8 roots of The GosPel

Teaching students the whole Gospel message is a crucial step in making discipleship the core of your youth ministry.

So, what should we teach students who want to become disciples of Jesus? How can we teach and reinforce the whole Gospel message rather than an incomplete picture?

We wrestled with this question as we sought to create our Deep Discipleship Youth Ministry System.

Our answer was the “8 Roots of the Gospel.” These are 8 core truths of the Gospel that are essential to the Christian faith.

I call them “Roots” because they are the truths that take the Gospel message deep into a student’s mind, heart, and soul. They are a source of life that is able to draw up truth, like water, from God’s Word. And they are the firm foundation that provides security and strength enough to weather the difficult storms of life.

The entire family of Deep Discipleship resources is built on the strategy of the 8 Roots of the Gospel. In every Deep Discipleship lesson, you’ll reinforce one of these core truths to make sure your students graduate from your ministry without critical gaps in their knowledge of the Gospel.

Here’s an in-depth look at each of the “8 Roots of the Gospel.” You’ll see the core truth explained, where the truth is found in Scripture, and several “Marks of a Disciple” or signs of maturity that are present when a student becomes deeply rooted in that particular truth.

Download a Deep Discipleship System Sample for another unique look at the 8 Roots of the Gospel.


The Rescue Root helps students understand their need for a Savior.

The Truth Explained: We are slaves, held captive by terrible enemies: sin and death. In this fallen, corrupt, and shattered world, we need a rescuer—Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer. In fact, he’s the only one who can free us. And once we’ve been freed, we have the opportunity to join in the rescue mission for others.

Key Bible Passage: John 1:12-13

Marks of a Disciple: Thankfulness, offers forgiveness, understands consequence of sin.


The Knowledge Root helps students learn the basics about God.

The Truth Explained: God is enormous. He’s too big, too awesome, and too complicated to wrap our minds around. Yet he wants us to know him. He wants a relationship with us, so he has revealed himself in a number of ways. In order to become his disciples, we need to know some essential truths about the One we follow.

Key Bible Passage: 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Marks of a Disciple: A growing awe, healthy fear of God, humility/self-awareness


The Kingdom Root helps students understand how to live in the Kingdom of God everyday.

The Truth Explained: When students embrace the Kingdom life, they begin to look at the small things differently. They realize the weight that their decisions carry, and they can start to live by God’s value system instead of the world’s tainted values.

Key Bible Passage: Luke 17:20-21

Marks of a Disciple: Inspired to serve, embraces the last and the least, selfless


The Outreach Root helps students discover their God-given mission.

The Truth Explained: Jesus gave his followers one last command: to spread the good news of his death and resurrection—the gospel—to the whole world. When we become members of Christ’s body of believers, the story doesn’t end. Now we get to join in a remarkable mission to share Jesus as Lord wherever we go.

Key Bible Passage: Romans 10:14-15a

Marks of a Disciple: Willing to share faith story, desire for justice in world, burden for the lost


The Apologetics Root prepares students to explain the hope they have in Christ. 

The Truth Explained: The Bible encourages us to defend our faith: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (1 Pet. 3:15, ESV). That’s the point of apologetics—to explain our hope in Christ to others.

Key Bible Passage: 1 Peter 3:15

Marks of a Disciple: Balances knowing God and knowing about God, humble, speaks truth in love 


The Worship Root help students explore what it means to have a lifestyle of worship.

The Truth Explained: Worship is more than just singing. It’s how you go about your day, and it happens when you get a vivid glimpse of God, his power, and his majesty. In the Bible, anyone who has a close encounter with God can’t help but marvel at his glory. The angels, his messengers, are in a constant state of worship. We, too, can express a life of worship by encountering God on a daily basis.

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 105:1

Marks of a Disciple: faith is part of whole life, obedience to God, joyful


The Community Root teaches students about the meaning of biblical fellowship.

The Truth Explained: We weren’t created to be alone. Our emotional, physical, and spiritual well-beings depend on deep, loving relationships with other people. God has created a family for you. They are his people, and they will help you grow in another essential connection—with God.

Key Bible Passage: James 1:27

Marks of a Disciple: Peacemaker, inclusive/welcoming, serving in church


The Identity Root help students discover their unique identity in Christ.

The Truth Explained: God created humans in his own image. Then sin entered the picture, and all people developed a warped version of their identity. Christ came to offer us a new identity, even better than the first. He took on our sin and shame so we could take on his righteousness.

Key Bible Passage: Genesis 1:27

Marks of a Disciple: Affirming of others, embraces growth, accepts and seeks help.

choosing the 8 roots of the Gospel

How did we choose these 8 Roots? By asking youth workers and pastors what they believed to be the core of the Gospel message.

These ministry leaders gave us lots of answers. We took those answers, compared them with what Jesus and his followers taught as essential to discipleship, and combined similar answers.

We then asked Bible teachers, professors, and Christian publishers which roots were the very core of the gospel. This narrowed the list again.

Finally, from that list, we asked youth workers again what terms expressed these themes best in a language students could learn and understand.

That left us with the 8 Roots of the Gospel.

The entire family of Deep Discipleship resources is built on the strategy of the 8 Roots of the Gospel. In every Deep Discipleship lesson, you’ll reinforce one of these core truths to make sure your students graduate from your ministry without critical gaps in their knowledge of the Gospel.

Download a Deep Discipleship System Sample for another unique look at the 8 Roots of the Gospel.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More