by Matt Brown
(Editor’s note: This is the 2nd in a 10-part series on how our evangelistic witness looks different than it did a generation ago.)
Sometimes it feels like there’s a hole in evangelism. There just aren’t programs to rally behind like there used to be a generation or two ago. Church campaigns like Evangelism Explosion or the Four Spiritual Laws were hugely effective for the past generation, but are not nearly as influential today.
I heard a story about a prominent pastor who had a wealthy donor asking where he could invest a significant amount of money in strategies reaching the next generation. The pastor searched and couldn’t find anything the donor would think was sufficient. The pastor was smart and innovative, and had a good pulse on things taking place
Is there a gap taking place in evangelism these days?
I definitely think evangelism looks significantly different than it did a generation or two ago.
People are different, and times have changed in some pretty significant ways. For instance, the Internet first came about in the 1990s, and social media within only the past ten years. These have fundamentally changed the way we communicate and relate to other people.
Some ministries that were doing well before this have now had to close their doors because they weren’t able to effectively change with the times. Of course, God is sovereign over all, and not surprised by any of this.
Some of the changes in evangelism are good. We need to take on a new mantle like David setting aside Saul’s armor before facing Goliath; he knew the old ways would only slow him down.
I believe one of the most important evangelism books for our generation today is Unbelievable Gospel by Jonathan Dodson. The book is theologically deep and gospel centered, but focuses on how our attitudes and approaches need to shift to be more effective in presenting Jesus to our friends and neighbors. One of the primary reasons it resonated with me is that all of the other dozens of evangelism books I’ve read seem to be for the past generation. This was the first book I’ve come across that represents a wise, winsome approach that can help you reach people today.
Let me share a couple of critical points from the book:
RELATIONSHIP: People in our generation tend not to trust strangers or advertisements. Relationship and authenticity speak volumes when sharing the gospel.
DIGNITY: Giving people the dignity of their own opinions and beliefs is vital in the journey to pointing people to Christ.
PROCESS: Evangelism is more of a process than an event. We need to be willing to go the long haul with people, answering questions, offering grace, showing love, and not trying to add a spiritual notch to our belt. The reality is, if every Christian shared the gospel with just a few people throughout his or her entire life, the entire world would be saved. The burden to reach the world doesn’t rest on us—it is God’s mission, and we play our small part.
MOTIVATION: One of the most important areas Dodson helps us consider is our heart motivation for sharing the gospel. People can sniff out when we are simply sharing our faith out of guilt or pressure. He challenges us to root our sharing in a love for Jesus and love for others. This heart motivation will speak volumes in how we approach people with love, rather than programs or spiritual pressure from our leaders.
Matt Brown (@evangelistmatt) is an evangelist, author of Awakening, and founder ofThink Eternity. He and his wife, Michelle, are impacting thousands of people with the gospel each year through live events and online. They also minister to a quarter million followers on social media daily.