A call to witness
A shock report was issued by research group Barna recently where it revealed that almost half of practicing Christian Millennials (those aged 20 to 34) say that evangelism is wrong. So, how did we get here and what are the implications for the doctrinal command to take the Gospel to all people?
Sharing one’s faith – evangelising – is a core component of our faith. Yet, it seems the liberal church has forsaken Biblical commands in pursuit of social justice. Although, that is not the only cause for the decrease in evangelism – we could also add apathy and a general suspicion amongst the community of those people wishing to share their faith.
Almost all practicing Christians believe that part of their faith means being a witness about Jesus (ranging from 95% to 97% among all generational groups) and that the best thing that could ever happen to someone is for them to know Jesus (94% to 97%). Despite this, 47% of Millennials believe it is wrong to share one’s personal belief with someone of a different faith in hopes that they will one day share the same faith.
The President of Barna Group says this study highlights a need for Christians to bolster their confidence in certain convictions – among them the belief that evangelising others is good and worthy of our time, energy and investment. As one of my favourite songs proclaims – a lifetime of labour is still worth it all if it rescues just one more soul.
This is a difficult age in which to cultivate steady and resilient Christians. In a time when society wants to believe that you should not criticise anyone’s life choices, hostility towards evangelism is growing because the unsaved don’t believe they have need of a Saviour.
There are some excellent programs in the US which are seeking to equip young people with tools to confidently share their faith. So too, in Australia, there are programs aimed at university students, but we believe that high school students need to be challenged as well due to the fact that statistics tell us most people who trust Christ do so before they turn 18. In one program – Dare 2 Share, they teach a simple acronym to help remember the core message of salvation:-
G – God created us to be with Him (Psalm 100:3)
O – Our sins separate us from God (Romans 3:23)
S – Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Romans 5:8)
P – Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again (Romans 5:8)
E – Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life (John 3:16)
L – Life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever (John 10:28)
Many youth leaders have quit their post over what they consider to be conditions which lead them to be glorified babysitters for a bunch of sanctimonious and self-centred teenagers.
You see, the teenagers of today are keenly aware of social injustice – that is why you see many of them joining in marches and protest groups. But they are being led to commit their time and energy to the wrong issues. Many are looking for a king, cause and community. The Christian life is able to provide all three. However, people are confused about what it means to be a Christian. For instance, one poll noted that when students transitioning into college were asked what it means to be a Christian, 35% gave an answer that didn’t mention Jesus at all.
We must relentlessly remind our congregation and our young people that the Christian faith is centred on the person of Jesus. Yet, many see themselves as the focus of the Christian life, which is why witnessing is not a priority. Jesus first, Others second, Yourself third. That is the JOY in witnessing.