Evangelism doesn’t work anymore. Maybe the culture is too sophisticated for it, especially teenagers. Perhaps it’s that this technologically connected generation of young people is totally disconnected from an ancient message that, at first glance, seems absolutely irrelevant to their lifestyles.
How can such a seemingly dated message compete with instant messaging? How can amazing grace compete with The Amazing Race? The old rugged cross pales in comparison to a shiny new Xbox. In a world of Myspace, Plasma TVs and iTunes how can a 2,000 year old message from a Middle Eastern carpenter be expected to compete?
Maybe we should just keep our mouths shut and forget about the whole evangelism thing. Perhaps we should just incarnate the gospel and hope in quiet desperation that somebody sees a difference in us and takes time out of their meeting-packed day to ask us about Jesus. Maybe St. Francis was right, “Preach the gospel, if necessary use words.”
Or maybe, just maybe, evangelism doesn’t work anymore because we have lost our faith in the power of the gospel message.
As I travel the nation I see Christians, especially adults, who have lost their faith in the simple gospel message to truly transform lives. Most sing about its power on Sunday morning but don’t carry that melodic confidence into the workplace on Monday.
What’s the result of our failure to proclaim Jesus with our lives and our lips? America is falling apart morally. That’s right, I place the blame for America’s demise at our feet. We are keeping the cure to the cultural cancer of sin locked away in our hearts.
If we somehow discovered the cure to the real disease of cancer we’d share it with everyone wouldn’t we? We’d “force our beliefs” on cancer victims out of love. We’d do our darndest to get them to accept the cure. We wouldn’t just say, “I’ll just live out the cure and hope that cancer victims see the cure in me.”
Well guess what? Those around us who don’t know Jesus have something infinitely worse than cancer and are headed somewhere infinitely worse than death. And we have the cure. Yet the average Christian has never shared the cure with their closest friends, coworkers and neighbors.
But I refuse to be discouraged. Let me tell you why. Because I have the privilege of traveling the nation to train tens of thousands of Christian teenagers to share the cure, the ultimate antidote to the poison and cancer of sin. At our Dare 2 Share conferences I get to equip teens to spread the message of Jesus. Four weekends ago I had the privilege of equipping 5,000 young people in Columbus, Ohio. A week after that it was 9,000 teenagers in St. Louis. Last weekend it was over 6,000 teens in Lincoln, Nebraska.
What I see in the eyes of these teenagers is a hunger. These teens believe in the power of the gospel of Jesus. They don’t quite know why it works, they just know that it works, so much so that they are willing to break out into groups all across their city to collect canned food, take prayer requests and share the cure. When they come back from collecting canned food I challenge them to take the next step of faith, to call their friends on their cell phone and share Jesus right there in the arena.
What’s amazing is that they do it without blinking.
It is awesome to watch thousands of teenagers call up their friends on the phone and share with them the good news of Jesus, begging their friends to hear them out and think about the claims of Christ. What are the results? Thousands of teenagers are being led to Christ by thousands of teenagers.
The following message is a real, raw (and not edited for spelling) note I got from Jessica on my blog after she experienced the cell phone challenge at our conference in Nashville last fall:
**how i saved my best friend: i was blessed & able 2 go 2 the dare2share in nashville this past weekend–IT WAS A BLAST!!…Greg told us 2 get out our phones & 2 call the person that is on our mind..so i called beccah; however, i got her voice message…of course i left what i was going 2 say if i did get her on the phone. i told her that i love her & that jesus loves her & that is why he died on the cross for her & for me. at this point i am crying my eyes out cause i realy want 2 c that she gets what i am telling her & becasue i love her SO MUCH & could not stand 2 think that my BEST FRIEND was going 2 hell & that i could help her find God! after i left the message i felt like i had realy done something in my life that was positive i had done something good….then the nexy day i call her back 2 see if she had gotten the message & she had! then she began 2 say a day or 2 ago her boyfriend chris & her were caught drinking & driving…chris is now haveing 2 go 2 jail becasue he was driving & beccah is in a lot of trouble as while! after this had happened 2 them they both knew that they needed 2 change something in there lives, but realy did not know what 2 do about it….the next day beccah got the message i had left her on her phone..she said it gave her a sinse that the holy spirit was dealing with her & that this was a sign from God! i could hardly believe my ears! i was so HAPPY!! so i talked with her about the “GOSPEL” …-i used everything i learned from DARE2SHARE 2 help lead my best friend 2 jesus christ…& it is the BEST feeling in the whole world 2 lead someone 2 God…thank you God & all the people from dare2share 4 helping me learn & have the words 2 say 2 help lead someone 2 God!!!! i am VERY blessed…thank you all! xoxo, jess
No, evangelism doesn’t work anymore. But maybe the reason is that we refuse to engage in it like Jessica was willing to. Maybe, just maybe, that gospel message is more relevant now than ever. Maybe St. Paul (not St. Francis) was right, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes….” Romans 1:16.
So I’ve got to ask you something. Are you sharing it? Think of that one person you know who doesn’t know Jesus. Pray for them and swallow hard. Now pick up your cell phone and give them a call. Let them know you have something important to talk to them about (make sure they know it’s not a “business opportunity”) and set up a time to get together to chat.
In the meantime go to www.dare2share.org/gospeljourney and download a simple guide to sharing your faith. As a matter of fact you may want to peruse the website a little bit to get even more tools to share your faith, especially the “How to reach…” section. There you will learn how to reach fourteen different spiritual belief systems (“Mormons, Muslims and Atheists oh my!”) one of which I’m sure your friend has bought into.
When you’ve had your conversation, tell me what happened. I really want to hear from you.
Okay, okay, maybe evangelism does still work. But we must be willing to take the initiative and bring it up with our friends.
Sorry St. Francis.
*Reprinted from an article I wrote for www.christianpost.com