“Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and PROCLAIMING THE GOSPEL of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matt 9:35-38)
This Sunday in our “What’s the Deal?” series, I will be tackling the topic of sharing our faith, or the big scary e-word = evangelism. In the passage above, we clearly see Jesus going around “proclaiming the gospel” (=evangelizing) and urging his disciples to pray for more laborers to go out into the field of human souls ripe and ready to respond to the good news. However we go about tweaking our Christian ministry to more effectively engage our post-Christian culture, we must keep Jesus as our model. And this is as clear as day: Jesus sends his followers out to “evangelize” and make disciples (Matt 28) in some way, shape or form.
But did you see the Barna study that came out recently?
Here’s a summary from ChurchLeaders.com:
Although many Christian young adults say they’re well-equipped to share their faith and are even “gifted” at it, almost half say it’s at least somewhat wrong to share personal religious beliefs with someone of another faith. That’s the finding of new research from the Barna Group titled “Reviving Evangelism.”
Two studies, conducted last May, gathered feedback from about 1,000 practicing Christians and 1,000 non-Christians or lapsed Christians. Almost all of the practicing Christians agree that “part of my faith means being a witness about Jesus” and that “the best thing that could ever happen to someone is for them to come to know Jesus.”
Among Christian Millennials (ages 20 to 34), almost three-quarters agree with the statements “when someone raises questions about faith, I know how to respond” and “I am gifted at sharing my faith with other people.” No other generational group in the study (Gen X, Boomers and Elders) feels as confident about their faith-sharing abilities.
Yet 47 percent of Christian Millennials agree “it is wrong to share one’s personal beliefs with someone of a different faith in hopes that they will one day share the same faith.” By comparison, only 27 percent of Gen Xers, 19 percent of Boomers, and 20 percent of Elders agree with that statement.
Millennials are often picked on, so I want to point out that this article also notes that Gen Xers, Boomers, and Elders are less confident about how to actually share their faith than Millennials. So, we might have a situation where Millennials are actually more articulate and effective in sharing their faith than older generations, but just concerned that we do it in loving and sensitive ways; while older generations may state in a survey that they believe sharing their faith is important, but in reality they are less able and likely to actually do it. I’m not sure…just a thought.
Anyway, my Sunday message will discuss questions such as: What is the central mission or calling of Jesus followers? What is the heart of our message? Is it really good news? How can we share our faith in more loving, winsome and unoffensive ways?
So, what does “sharing the good news” look like for you? What do you think about this Barna Study results?
Hope to see you Sunday!