Antiquated and Intolerant?
Why is sharing our faith such a challenge? Why do many of us tend to think of evangelism as an antiquated, intolerant thing of the past?
I believe there are several things that contribute to our conflicted attitudes when it comes to evangelism. In fact, across my twenty years of ministry, I’ve identified 5 key reasons why teenagers and adults don’t share their faith. Let’s take a look.
Reason #1: Fear
What will my friends think if I talk about Jesus?
Fear of rejection looms large for everyone. But did you know that there’s help for overcoming this fear straight from the pages of Scripture? And here it is: The promise that God goes with us and provides His power as we share His love and truth with others. Check out 2 Timothy 1:7-8: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.”
Both you and your teens need to learn to rely on God’s power and promises by praying for your lost friends and asking God to go before you. Prayer will give you the courage you need to step out bravely.
Reason #2: Live and Let Live
Others’ spiritual beliefs aren’t my business.
Sometimes we think evangelism is about being a pushy, preachy pit bull. In our “live and let live” world, we’ve somehow bought into the perception that initiating spiritual conversations is inappropriate or intrusive. It can seem so intolerant. But in actuality, evangelism is about giving away the best news on the planet. It’s about reaching into other’s lives with Jesus’ grace and truth.
That why it’s critical that we get this straight in our heads: Jesus’ message is “the truth” and not just another lifestyle option.
Whether our friends know it or not, they need Jesus. At the core of every human is a gaping hole, a hole that can be temporarily filled with stuff, sports, or sin, to name a few of the most popular diversions. But the only thing that can truly, fully, and permanently fill the gaping void is a relationship with Jesus. Life without God is like having a car without an engine or a cell phone without a service provider. It’s the existence of God that gives us the basis for hope in life, both now and forever.
All of us need to understand that we can help others fill that invisible, unquenchable need for God by sharing the gospel with them. It’s not intolerant to share the truth with others. It’s a gift that both you and your teenagers must learn to give away to others in a clear and compelling way.
Tackling Your Evangephobia
In the next future issues of energize, we’ll explore reasons # 3 – 5. But in the meantime, take some time this week and start wrestling through your own evangephobic attitudes. Here are a few suggestions to help you get you started:
- Reflect on the following Scripture and think through what a Christlike response would look like in the two faith-sharing blockers we’ve identified so far:
- Use these verses to start getting to the root of your own intimidation about sharing your faith. Once you’ve started to wrestle with some of you own personal stuff, identify one thing you can change this week to make evangelism more of a priority in your youth ministry. (Prayer and exchanging personal stories about your efforts to share your faith are a great place to start.)
Let’s tackle any fear and loathing head on and embrace evangelism as the first critical step in living out THE Cause of Christ.