by Andrew Palau
(Editor’s note: This is the 4th in a 10-part series on how our evangelistic witness looks different than it did a generation ago.)
One of the greatest challenges in our Christian witness in this post-Christian culture is not “shaking off” outdated methods of evangelism. It’s not whether we are going to invent some new model for mass preaching or come up with an exciting new one-on-one approach for sharing the gospel. It’s not whether the Roman’s Road is really the best tool for personal evangelism in our day.
I believe our biggest challenge – our biggest question – is not how to reach our generation for Christ, but rather, what we are going to share with them. Are we willing and ready and able to unapologetically preach Christ and Him crucified?
As a matter of first priority, every follower of Christ must come to terms with the foolishness of the cross, just as Paul did. Paul was a master of Hebrew Law and intellectual wisdom, yet even he humbly asserted that the foolishness of the cross was enough to win his generation. He declares that no matter what kind of “show” people might be looking for and no matter what those in the world might or might not relate to we must preach Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 1:22-23). A simple, yet transformative message. Will we choose to embrace the foolishness of the cross for ourselves?
Once we embrace the foundation of the message without embarrassment, only then are we ready and able to diligently work to eliminate the unnecessary human offenses and awkwardness that may hinder us from reaching our post-Christian culture. We might call these changes in methodology or adaptive models of evangelism. Adapting well does make a great difference. The right models will give believers boldness. It will help them step out of their comfortable boundaries and risk relationships to draw others to the hearing of the good news.
There are great opportunities in this generation to adapt well. Our evangelistic team has worked for more than 50 years to find new and innovative ways to present the good news. What we have found is that relationships are what matter. Relationships are key–for this generation and for every generation. Whether it’s a large crusade, a citywide festival, a small gathering at a church, or an evangelistic luncheon, people come because they are invited by a friend.
When our team shifted from primarily holding crusades in stadiums to city-wide festivals in parks, we incorporated increased efforts to make deep connection between the churches and the needs of the people in their cities. We encouraged congregations to take on the greatest challenges of their city. (This is following the example of our Savior, who came not to serve, but to be served!) And we challenged them to reach out to their friends and neighbors and invite them to hear the good news.
What we’ve seen in cities across the world is that in the context of relationship, the foolishness of the cross is at its most powerful. Adapting our methods of evangelism to a culture that is decidedly post-Christian should draw us into closer relationships (especially with people who are different than us or disagree with our beliefs!). It’s in those relationships that the gospel can become an incredible message of hope to the people around us who have found little else to believe in.
Andrew Palau (@andrew_palau) is an evangelist with the Luis Palau Association. He has shared the gospel with millions of people, and at every opportunity he demonstrates his father’s same passion and love for Christ and for evangelism.