Rethinking Evangelism

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Today, I want to dive into something that is both obvious, but also crucial for sharing Jesus. And, it surrounds two facts…

1) I believe that Jesus Christ is absolutely worth sharing with others.

2) Our culture has shifted and changed, so where that sharing starts needs to change.

And, here is what I mean by this…

Decades ago, there was a lingering “Christian” consciousness in our culture. What this was often called, in more academic studies, was “Christendom.” What this meant was that purely by being born into Canada, the United States or England, etc., you were raised with, at the very least, a basic understanding of Christianity, and perhaps even shared certain Christian values. Of course, people were free to reject Christianity or to disagree, but, in general, there was a familiarity with Christianity.

If you were to graph it in terms of (a) meaning “zero understanding or readiness to accept the Gospel” to (z) meaning “deciding to follow Jesus,” people were simply closer to where the “x” is below, being ready to follow Jesus because of the cultural familiarity.

(a) ————————————————x——— (z)

My dad would often tell me that when he was growing up in high school, everyone in his grade 13 class went to Sunday School. And, this was just north of Toronto. That is no longer the case because our culture has shifted.

Today, people are far less likely to have a base knowledge, or any knowledge, of what Christianity is or why it matters. Today, on the same graph, our culture might be better represented as this…

(a) ——–x————————————————- (z)

After a sermon recently, I had a new guest share with me that they really liked my “TED Talk.” This is because they had never seen or experienced what a sermon is, since this is no longer something of which we are culturally familiar.

I bring all this up to say something radically obvious: If it’s a different culture, we need a different approach. Since people no longer have a cultural understanding of Christianity, what worked decades ago won’t work today.

In previous generations, the primary approach was to tell people about Jesus and then bring them to church. And, while there is nothing inherently wrong with this, I believe our starting place has changed, so we need to change.

We need to demonstrate the love of Jesus and bring the church to them. We need to reach out and share the love of God in tangible ways, being the people of God (the church) to those around us. And, this may take a while, because people are in a different place.

So, when it comes to sharing Jesus, I think the starting place has shifted. I think it now begins with demonstrating the love of Jesus, so that we can share about Jesus. I believe that the way we will see people be changed by Jesus isn’t to just invite them to church (although, that’s a good thing!). We also need to faithfully love those around us over the long haul. That’s the new starting place.

 

2 thoughts on “Rethinking Evangelism

  1. Actually, I don’t think that your suggestion is new. Didn’t God love us and come to us (Jesus) because the people then rejected God and had gone their own way? Not unlike today, the need is great and we have to be His ambassadors of love as were his followers. We are experiencing the same things the disciples faced. Rejection. But, they kept on keeping on and we must do the same.

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    1. I totally agree – my suggestion isn’t new at least in terms of history. Because your right this is what Jesus did, he came to us and demonstrated love! And I love the phrase “ambassardors of his love” that’s it exaclty!

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