While visiting the beautiful city in Oregon, I was asked to address the above question. My answer is YES! The gospel works when people experience the power of the love of Christ and redemption (Romans 1:16).
The pastor and friend with whom I was serving has been teaching his congregation through a particular book in the bible and asked if I could join him in teaching a homily on “the real world, joy and hardships”.
The first thing that came to mind as I prepared was a thought of location. This church is located in a beautiful and prosperous city and that might be the real world for the people who live there.
The second thought I wrestled with was a definition of “the real world.” Even though I generally know what people infer when they use the phrase “the real world,” is the real world the same everywhere? I was quickly steeped in a deeply philosophical moment and resonated with William Raeper, Linda Edwards’s book, A Brief Guide to Ideas. The authors note, “Philosophy is not just about how to think; it is about how to live. What we think is true affects our view of ourselves and how we treat other people and the world.” 
In attempt to discuss whether or not the gospel works in the real world, we chose to discuss the joys and challenges of parenting including the statistics highlighting the ‘drop out’ rates of youth from both faith and church. According to Fuller youth institute, “… that 40 percent to 50 percent of all youth group graduates fail to stick with their faith or connect with a faith community after high school.”
How then shall we exist? Has the gospel failed in such a depiction of the real world of Christian youth or is the environment of the youth’s up bringing to blame? Maybe another way to ask the question is; do these youth know who Jesus Christ is beyond “saying the sinner’s prayer and making the decision”? Are the youth being discipled in the Way of Jesus Christ? Are they experiencing is transforming love?
The previous study I referred to also discourages the negative methods in church that only focus on teaching the youth a Christianity of “dos” and “don’ts”. The Zondervan research notes: “When asked what it means to be Christian, one-third of subjects as college juniors (all of whom were youth group graduates) failed to mention “Jesus” or “Christ” but rather emphasized behaviors.” Yet how can a person experience the power of the gospel without knowing the loving kindness and forgiveness of the person of Jesus Christ who the origin of the gospel story?
As a human being, who began as a baby, has experienced being a lad/youth, and is now an adult, husband to a lovely bride and a thankful father of our delightful and smart daughter; I am here reminded of B. B King and Steve Wonder who sings, “To know you is to love you.”
From city to city, everyone from young to old wants and needs to be assuredly loved. From the popular personalities to priests, the need is the same. Take a look at another reemerging example of the puzzling question between professing Christians and the reality of the gospel that in the media. It is the debate about the renowned Mennonite theologian Dr. John Howard Yoder’s stained past. While responding to the dissonance in the lives of some of the PhD theologians who are caught up in adultery, the reformed Pastor John Piper boomed “… they don’t know God.” Might Pastor Piper have something to say to the youth’s challenges as well? I don’t know.
Perhaps, the youth are confronted with real world dilemmas and demands, which are also spiritual, cultural and philosophical in nature. As Raeper and Edwards put it:
Philosophy, meaning ‘love of wisdom’; and ‘theology’, meaning ‘talking about God’. Wisdom is a kind of knowledge. Philosophy is generally concerned with how we know things and what we can know. Philosophy asks questions such as: Is there a point to the universe? How should we live? Is there an order behind nature? Is there a morality for everyone or does morality changes at different times and in different place?  In the case above, a great and reliable source to consult is scripture. Proverbs assert, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge …” Introducing children, young, adults and the elderly to the totality of the gospel in an intergenerational manner; can serve to equips God’s people to value quality relational gospel discipleship, as a process of maturation into the gospel story as the very core of their identity. This way, all age people groups can interact with the holy book along with an expansive discipleship where the word of God speaks to interdisciplinary perspectives about faith, culture, the purpose and meaning of life across generations.
My entire life is fully persuaded that the totality of the gospel works powerfully when people experience the life and love of Christ. I am encouraged that their are some church that are teaching their congregation to experience the power of God’s love!
For those interested, a great source on children, young, parents and “… growing faith in kids that “sticks” and continues to mature long-term”- Check out Dr. Kara Powell book, Sticky Faith.
 William Raeper and Linda Edwards, A Brief Guide to Ideas (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997), 11.