[Jesus excited to see how excited Christians are to talk about him.]
This is a most interesting study. According to Barna, almost half of millennial Christians don’t think it is good to ‘evangelize,’ that is, share their faith with others. This is true even though those polled said that knowing Jesus was very important.
What immediately interested me was what people on twitter thought about the word ‘evangelism.’ As with everything, it is fine to ask people what they think about something, but the answer they give will entirely depend on what they think the words actually mean.
So, for example, if you think that evangelism means chatting in a non-threatening way with people about Jesus, sharing your own personal journey, talking about what Jesus means to you, relating in exhaustive detail your own spiritual thoughts and feelings, you will very likely answer the question one way. You might be inclined to say yes, you think it is good to do ‘evangelism.’
But if you think evangelism means walking up to a complete stranger and thrusting a tract into his or her hands and then making a brave escape, or waving a sign, or standing on a busy street corner shouting, or knocking on the doors of strangers and asking if they know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, you are going to answer that question another way. You will probably tell the polling person, ‘Oh no, I do not think that evangelism is a good thing.’ Indeed, if you asked me that question and meant the latter definition, I would probably answer the question the way most millennials did—please don’t make me do that. I prefer to be winsome and stuff.
Goodness, it is hard enough even to use the word ‘Christian’ in every day life. Better to say ‘Jesus Follower’ or perhaps, nothing at all.
In other words, and I don’t know if you have experienced this, so maybe I am only talking about myself, but it is very hard to bring the question of Jesus into already established relationships. If I get to know someone, but happen to forget to mention that I am one of those appalling Christians who goes to church almost every day, and who thinks about Jesus a lot of the time, after about a week it becomes impossible for me to even bring it up. Indeed, I sometimes don’t like to talk about Jesus with other Christians who I know already agree with me. I am a coward.
So even though I would say yes to the first definition, of course it would be very hard for me to actually do it. And so Christianity will shortly die.
But at least I feel guilty.
That’s why, as with everything in the Christian life, evangelism can’t be in the category of special spiritual calling for my special spiritual life, it has to be a discipline, like prayer, bible reading, going to church, taming the tongue, helping another person along, remembering to brush my teeth. If you floss, you can probably ‘do evangelism.’ If you know how to say ‘hello’ you can probably turn slightly pink, shakingly brush your long over due for a cut hair out of your face, swallow hard, and ask, ‘So, do you go to church?’ Or, my embarrassing go-to, ‘I will pray for you about that.’