Will you tell the world about Jesus? Have you told anyone about God’s gift this year? This is not condemnation. It is a reminder and a push. We who know the goodness and mercy of God must tell others about Him. Studies have shown that evangelism is on the decline despite the fact that the majority of Christians feel compelled to share their faith. So what is keeping people from acting on their desires? What is keeping you?
There certainly are many reasons why Christians don’t share their faith. It is arrogant and ignorant to claim to know exactly why people don’t talk about their God. People are complex. Often there are many factors pertaining to any given decision. Upon this disclaimer, though, I would offer one thought. Rather, I ask one question. Do you feel prepared to share your faith?
A great many that desire to talk about God’s forgiveness do not because of not knowing what to say. A lack of articulation of the Christian faith is a symptom that nearly all professing believers share.1 This inability to explain what one believes about God combined with the proliferation of anti-religious, namely anti-Christian, rhetoric and propaganda covering the airways and social media cause a feeling of inadequacy in many believers as it relates to speaking on behalf of their God.
As many do not know even the fundamentals of Christianity2, it is an overwhelming and intimidating idea to talk to others about God. Moreover, it is quite impossible to talk about things that you know nothing about. The new normal of biblical illiteracy for professing believers make them prime targets for doubt and deception, and it is a sure reason why gospel sharing is absent from their life.
Internal questions about one’s own faith and the external attack of the militant atheists are sure causes for the deafening silence of modern Christian evangelism. In light of this situation, a stimulant to evangelism is surely knowledge, knowledge of God and the acquisition of educated responses to the skeptics own missionary endeavors. And yes, there are militant atheists proselytizing. Right now, in many high school and college classrooms, the goal of conversion exists. Winning converts is not only a Christian effort. This goal is held also by those whose god is reason and science.
The church cannot turn a blind eye to this situation. Christians living in an age of skepticism and individualism without the knowledge of the essential truths of their faith is a recipe for sure disaster. In response, christian education should be, perhaps, the highest priority for the church in 2014. Christians must be taught and not just given opportunities to experience God. Indeed, they must be given a right understanding of who God is so that they might know Him rightly, experience Him truly, and, therefore, serve Him faithfully.
This observation does not put knowing God on a higher plane than experiencing Him. For one cannot know God unless they experience Him, and one cannot experience God unless He is known. Knowledge and experience are different sides of the same coin. They need not be pitted against one another. They are not opposites. They are each a part of one thing: being in communion with God.
Much of life is over-correcting. People collectively run from one extreme to another. Balance is hard to maintain. Many fear knowledge thinking it results in cold arrogance. Many fear experience thinking it to be flighty and uncertain. The church is not excluded from this problem. But for evangelism to take flight again, the church must seek to balance out the experiential age of Christianity by faithfully teaching Christians the fundamental truths of God, how to communicate those truths, and how to answer questions about those truths.
The church must heed this call, the call to equip its saints for the work of ministry. We must understand the times and respond like faithful watchmen protecting our people from the present dangers. Christians need, and, interestingly enough, desire to know God deeply with their mind. Let us satisfy that desire. Let us train them. Let us teach them. Let us show them that their faith is not placed in a cleverly invented story. Let us equip them with the knowledge of God, the reasons for Christian faith, and the relational skills needed to proclaim the gospel and defend the faith. A passionate army is waiting to be trained. Diligent laborers are ready to go. Let us put them to work. The harvest is waiting.
Jesus, this Christmas and in the following year, let us run to this world with the good news that you love all men and women and have made a way for their sins to be forgiven. Let us all share the glorious gospel and let us see people respond to your mercy through our faithfulness. ~ Amen!
~ Michael C. Sherrard is the Director of Ratio Christi College Prep, an organization that seeks to equip the church for effective evangelism by teaching high school students apologetics, fundamental Christian doctrine, and biblical evangelism. For more info, or if you would like to financially support Mike as he and RC contribute to the work of preparing young adults to withstand the attack on Christianity, click here.
1 This is especially true of teenagers. See: Smith, Christian, and Melinda Lundquist. Denton. Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2005. (p. 263)
2 Less than 1 in 5 born again Christians have a biblical worldview. See: “Barna Survey Examines Changes in Worldview Among Christians over the Past 13 Years.” Barna Survey Examines Changes in Worldview Among Christians over the Past 13 Years. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2013.