Why Evangelism Doesn't Work Anymore
by Greg Stier
Evangelism doesn't work anymore.
Why? Maybe the culture is too sophisticated for it—especially our teenagers. Perhaps this technologically connected generation of young people has totally disconnected from an ancient message that, at first glance, seems absolutely irrelevant to their lifestyles.
After all, 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 the world of MySpace, plasma TVs and iTunes, how can a 2,000-year-old message from a Middle Eastern carpenter be expected to hold people's attention?
So 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, just maybe, evangelism doesn't work anymore because Christians have lost their faith in the power of the Gospel message. As I travel the nation speaking to youth leaders and students, I see Christians, especially adults, who have lost their faith in the Gospel's ability to truly transform lives. Most sing about its power on Sunday morning but don't carry that melodic confidence into the workplace on Monday.
When we stop proclaiming Jesus with our lives and our lips, what is the result? 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 darnedest 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 his or her closest friends, coworkers and neighbors.
Despite this predicament, 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. A few weekends ago I had the privilege of speaking to 5,000 young people in Columbus, Ohio. Last weekend, it was 9,000 teenagers in St. Louis. Next weekend, it will be 6,000 teenagers in Lincoln, Nebraska.
What I see in the eyes of these teenagers is hunger. They really 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 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 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 their teenage friends.
The following message is a real, raw (and not edited for spelling) note I got from a girl named 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
If evangelism doesn't work anymore, maybe the reason is that we refuse to engage in it like Jessica was willing to. Maybe the 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).
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 dare2share.org/gospeljourney and download a simple guide to sharing your faith. You can peruse the site 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 14 different spiritual belief systems ("Mormons, Muslims and Atheists, oh my!").
When you've had your conversation, log onto my blog at gregstier.org and 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.
Greg Stier is the president and founder of Dare 2 Share Ministries in Arvada, Colo., where he works with youth leaders and students, equipping them to be effective in sharing the Gospel. Dare 2 Share has impacted the lives of more than 250,000 teenagers across the country. With experience as a senior teaching pastor and in youth ministry for almost 20 years, he has a reputation for knowing and relating to today's teens. He is known for motivating, mobilizing and equipping teens for positive change. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries and the GameDay youth conference tour for 2007, please visit dare2share.org.
This content originally appeared on Outreachmagazine.com in April 2007. Visit us for more ideas, insights and stories. For more ideas and information, visit outreachmagazine.com. For your free 3-issue mini subscription to Outreach magazine, click here.
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