Are You Sharing?... Evangelism in the Western World - 21st Century
On a return flight from North Carolina I had a two hour discussion with a 30-something computer analyst from Iran. We began by recounting the great history of the Persian Empire and then moved on to discuss the intersection of Jewish and Muslim worldviews and beliefs. We ended with the similarities between Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Later we discussed the key aspects of life and death and why Christ is the key to having a new intimate life with God.
It dawned on me how long it had been since I had shared my faith with anyone at all, let alone a person from a people group resistant to the gospel message. I realize that my entire world is spent with believers and the tangential meetings with others are brief and not given to much discussion. If world evangelism was left up to people like me, the Kingdom is in trouble.
Another stark reality is that over the last decade, the AGC has grown by number of churches but the growth of people coming to trust in Christ and moving to baptism is relatively small.
The marks of a healthy church movement must include folks coming to Christ and getting involved in the church. The obvious question would be, “why does it seem that fewer and fewer people are coming to Jesus”? One reason might be that believers are not inclined to share their faith. Statistically less than 5% of all evangelicals ever lead anyone to Christ in their entire lifetime. For the most part we have relegated evangelism to programs by trained specialists, yet how many people actually come to Christ through programs?
If we are to learn from the two thirds world where the church is growing rapidly, one of the great differences is really quite a simple concept. In Africa, Asia and South America evangelism is not seen as a duty or task to perform (obedience), rather it is a way of introduction as to who they are. It is not uncommon to hear people say, “Hi I am Joe and I have been born again”.
We in the West are programmed for privatisation of our inner life. As a result we are naturally marginalized in a pluralistic society like Canada. We have lost our voice. What would happen if we simply made our faith a part of an introduction as to who we are? We are programmed to see ourselves by what we do rather than what we believe. Yet maybe we should break that code. Think of a Canada that identified Christians not by what we are against or by our denominational distinctives but rather by our faith. Over the next few months I want to discuss ways in which we could learn how to disciple and share our faith with a view of fulfilling the Great Commission.