Ninety-five percent of all Christians have never won a soul to Christ.Street Level Evangelism. Michael Parrott. p. 9-11.
Eighty percent of all Christians do not consistently witness for Christ.
Less than two percent are involved in the ministry of evangelism.
Seventy-one percent do not give toward the financing of the great Commission.
Unfortunately, ‘evangelism’ is a highly uncomfortable word for many Christians. In fact The Barna Group posted a wonderful article a few years back on the state of evangelism in Western cultures like our own. The article begins with these important statistics, “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, many Millennials are unsure about the actual practice of evangelism. Almost half of Millennials (47%) agree at least somewhat that it is wrong to share one’s personal beliefs with someone of a different faith in hopes that they will one day share the same faith.“
There is something significant about those findings. It is not just that 47% of millennials are uncomfortable witnessing for Jesus Christ, rather it is that 47% of millennials agree that it is somewhat wrong to evangelize. Here is the great irony of that statistic: The reason our millennials feel it is somewhat wrong to evangelize is because the secular culture around us has been evangelizing their own ideas so successfully that young Christians now believe the secular ideologies that its wrong to evangelize Jesus. But make no mistake – the secular world around us is in no way afraid to share their own views with us. They are in no way afraid to promote their own ideologies. They too are practicing evangelism
As Christians – we love evangelism. It is baked into the hardwiring of our new DNA as followers of Christ. Of course evangelism comes in many forms, but the simple idea of a longing to see those around come to know the great love of Jesus Christ the way you have come to know the great love of Jesus Christ is part and parcel of Christianity. After all, if the good news of Jesus Christ is truly as good as the Bible claims it is, then who would not want others around them to share in that goodness.
I have become utterly convinced over the last few years that one of the great changes the American Church will have to undergo, is we will have to undergo a revitalization of evangelism. The Church must learn how to share their faith, and must have their courage sparked once again. Yes – courage. I am also convinced that Pastors will have to lead the way if they expect their Churches to follow.
I know for me, my heart for evangelism has been greatly stirred and I have been inspired by watching other men who I deeply respect go out and share about Jesus with others. I’ve learned from how they have handled themselves, and how they have responded to criticisms, and questions. And as I’ve watched them, I’ve slowly grown in confidence myself. Honestly I now look forward to that spot on my calendar every week where I go out sharing the gospel on streets of Chicago. I have had some of the most incredible conversations with people and have watched the power of God work through my, at time bumbling, efforts.
So here is a simple method that is easy to remember. I often have two simple questions that I use to spur conversation with people. The first is, “What do you believe about God & religion?” The second is, “What do you believe about Jesus Christ?” I have found that these two questions get people talking and thinking about what it is they believe. Then what I do during the conversation is I look for opportunities to prod and ask good follow up questions. Often, people will be sharing, and it will be obvious that they have not really thought about the question all that much and as they’re responding they are stating obviously false or contradictory ideas. I’ll look for those opportunities and engage with them and challenge them. And of course, at some point in the conversation I look for a clear chance to be very clear with the necessity of faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins.
I have been posting videos on our Church’s youtube account for the purpose of equipping the Church and emboldening the Church. What you will see in these videos is that evangelism is not as scary as it sounds. In fact, the vast majority of conversations I have on the streets of Chicago are very friendly with people who genuinely are enjoying the conversation. And I have seen a number of folks put their faith in Jesus for the very first time.
Finally, I want to add that one of the best things you can do at the end of an evangelism encounter is pray with that person. Very few people will turn down prayer. But I cannot begin to explain to you how powerfully God works through those moments. I’ve seen a number of folks breakdown in tears as I’ve prayed for them and I am convinced in those moments that God is powerfully moving in their lives.
Church – the time is now for every Christian to get equipped to learn how to share their faith. To be be bold and courageous in their faith. Evangelism comes in many forms and will not always look like the ‘Cold Turkey Evangelism’ I share in my videos. But even when it is with a friend or a co-worker or any relationship that God has put in your life, the tools we need are simple. Every Christian is capable and more than equipped by God for the task. Remember, it is not the messenger that is important, it is the message.