Most Christians struggle when it comes to sharing their faith. And, as it turns out, many Christians don’t think that evangelism is something we should even be doing.
A recent study revealed that 47 percent of Millennial Christians at least somewhat agree that it is morally wrong to share your faith with someone in hopes of converting them. This is compared to 27 percent of Gen Xers, 19 percent of Baby Boomers, and 20 percent of Elders.
These findings are not incredibly surprising. We live in an age where moral relativism is a normative part of our culture. But the fact that so many Christians see evangelism as morally wrong is shocking, because such a belief runs completely counter to a calling that has been central to the Church since its inception 2000 years ago.
Evangelism is the act of sharing the good news about Jesus so those who hear his message will turn and place their faith in him. And it is most certainly something that every Christian should spend their life pursuing.
Here’s why evangelism must be a top priority for every Church and every Christian.
1. To not evangelize is actually an act of hatred against non-believers. (Yikes!)
One of the reasons many Christians feel squeamish about sharing their faith is that they see it as a sort of religious imperialism. “Who am I to try and convince people that my religious beliefs are right and that theirs are wrong?”
To answer that question, I’d like to turn to an unlikely source of perspective.
Penn Jillette is a famed illusionist and avowed atheist. But what he has to say about Christian evangelism is incredibly insightful. Even though he firmly denies the existence of God, he doesn’t think very highly of Christians that don’t care about evangelism.
Here’s what Jillette says.
“I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe there is a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward…How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”
Jillette goes on to illustrate his point in this way.
“If I believed, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe it, that that truck was bearing down on you, there’s a certain point that I tackle you, and this is more important than that.”
If we really believe that Jesus rose from the dead and that we find eternal life in him, it is an act of hatred to keep that information to ourselves and watch those around us die in their sin without even trying to save them.
2. You don’t need to have the “gift of evangelism” or become a great theologian before you can share your faith.
I have a friend who has the spiritual gift of evangelism. He’s incredible to watch. He has this uncanny ability to walk up to random strangers in public places and strike up a conversation about Jesus. And not only does he have the courage to do that, but strangers consistently meet him with a great sense of openness to what he has to say. It’s unreal.
I don’t have that gift.
But that doesn’t mean that I’m off the hook from sharing my faith. And neither are you. There are people who you work with, go to school with, live next to, go to the gym with, are in the same club or on the same team with you, that don’t know Jesus. And you have influence in their life. You have a unique opportunity to move them closer to Jesus.
And you don’t need an advanced degree in theology either. You can just share your story and how Jesus has changed your life. When they are going through a difficult time, share with them how your faith helped you through a similar season in your life.
You can also start by just inviting your friends to church. That’s simple enough–just an invitation for them to go and sit with you in one of your church’s services and then go to lunch afterward. It might spark something miraculous.
3. People are more open to Jesus than you probably give them credit for.
Research shows that most people are fairly open to learning more about Jesus. When asked, 47 percent of people said that they would freely engage in a spiritual conversation about Jesus. Another study indicates that 78 percent of unchurched people would at least listen if you wanted to share what you believe about Jesus.
What’s more is that if you invite your unchurched friends and family to church, it’s highly likely that they’ll go. 55 percent said they would attend church if invited by a family member, and 51 percent said they’d attend if a friend invited them.
We tend to think that most people are openly hostile toward our faith. And to be sure, some people are. But we shouldn’t live in constant fear that we’re going to have our own “God’s Not Dead” kind of situation. At some point in our lives, we might. But the characters depicted in those films aren’t necessarily a reflection of the non-believers we know and interact with on a daily basis.
Most people we know are just doing their best to live decent lives while searching for meaning and purpose. And if they see that we’ve found meaning and purpose in Jesus, they’ll be interested in at least hearing what we have to say about it. Use that as an opportunity to share your faith with them. They might find that it’s exactly what they were looking for.
Mot people we know are just doing their best to live decent lives while searching for meaning and purpose. And if they see that we've found that in Jesus, they'll be interested in at least hearing what we have to say about it. Click To Tweet
4. Plain and simple, Jesus told us to evangelize.
There are plenty of really compelling reasons why we should share our faith. But perhaps the most compelling reason is this. It’s just what Jesus told us to do. And if we say that we follow him, then we really need to follow him.
After Jesus rose from the dead, he spent a lot of time with his disciples talking about a great many things. But in his last conversation with them, he summarized exactly what they should spend their lives focusing on.
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-20)
After Jesus said this, he ascended into heaven. He’ll remain there until this work is done, and then he’ll return. In the meantime, we’re called to be disciple-makers. And to be sure, disciple-making involves more than evangelism. But evangelism is where it begins.
We simply can’t leave this to our pastors. If we want to live to see the movement of Jesus multiply in our communities, then it’ll take an army of faithful people engaging in this work together. This is the last and most important thing Jesus told us to do.
Evangelism is also the one purposeful task the Church is able to do now that we won’t be able to do in heaven. We will worship Jesus and be with him forever. But our ability to invite others into the same is a time limited opportunity.
When it comes to sharing your faith, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Evangelism seems so weighty. And it is. But since we don’t know where to start, we have a tendency to not start at all. Don’t let that be you. Start somewhere.
Perhaps the best place to start is in prayer. Pray that Jesus would give you a heart to reach the lost. Pray that he would give you opportunities to share your faith. Pray that you would be able to recognize those opportunities. And pray that he would give you the strength and words to rise and meet them with the good news of Jesus.
And as you engage in this process, remember the promise that Jesus made. He’ll be with you, to the very end.