Back in February of this year, a study done by Barna research showed some very alarming numbers. One of the most concerning bits of data was that almost 50 percent of practicing Christians in the millennial generation agreed that it is wrong to share your faith with someone in hopes that they will someday share the same faith. In other words, they believe it is morally wrong to evangelize.
Are these numbers setting off alarms in your head? They are definitely shouting in mine. Jesus states in John 14:6 that “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Anyone who does not share our faith will not be able to join us with Jesus in heaven. We should want everyone to share our faith! As someone on the cusp of that millennial/Gen Z line (it seriously depends on who you believe; I don’t feel like I fit in either!), I am concerned. As someone who converted to Christianity, I am worried. Evangelism is of eternal importance. However, I want to recognize that evangelism is scary and can be confusing. I am guilty of avoiding sharing my faith with those around me. I’m afraid that people will think that I am “stuck up” if I ask them questions on spirituality and faith.
We need to address this growing mind-set against evangelism. It is important to share your faith with those around you, and we should want everyone to know and trust in the Savior of the world. One way to address it is to prepare people to be able to share their faith with those around them. Here is one way you can prepare a group to share their faith.
That heading seems strange; aren’t we taught not to stereotype people? Haven’t we been told to push past what we’ve heard about a group of people? The simple answer is, "Yes." The truthful answer is, “Yes, but stereotypes and unconscious biases still influence what we think.”
I invited my sister to Easter morning service this past year. I asked her if she’d come to church with me and then out to brunch. She said yes, and I waited until Easter Sunday rolled around. At brunch that day, my sister complimented a popular blogger’s podcast for not being pushy with their religion. This comment made my brain go upside-down, sideways, and in a loop trying to think about what I had done wrong. To me, this implied that I had been pushy with my church invite. It also implied that she believed most Christians to be pushy people who want you to live like they do because they think they are better than you and have all the answers. Encountering this stereotype made me pause. How did the way I invited my sister to an Easter service seem “pushy,” and what could I have done differently? So, how do you address the stereotype? By encouraging discussion.
This is an activity you can do with any size group, though if you have a large group, I do suggest breaking into smaller groups. Ask your group to think of a stereotype they hear about Christians. Once your group has a solid stereotype, use these questions for discussion:
- What makes people think this?
- What does the Bible say about the behavior the stereotype implies?
- How can we practically respond to this?
Having a guided discussion can lead to participants walking away feeling better equipped to address these stereotypes and not fall into them.
During this activity, encourage group members to bring up situations where they don’t know how to evangelize. When I brought up the situation with my sister to other Christians, I was given many ideas for how to approach her next time. One suggestion was to invite her to a community-oriented event first, like a BBQ or Ladies’ Night. That way, she’d be introduced to a church through their community aspect. Others suggested that inviting her to services is not wrong and offered to partner in prayer with me. Both were helpful for me moving forward.
By discussing evangelism and some barriers involved in it, groups and individuals can learn how to share their faith with the people in their lives in ways that they may not have thought about before. Don’t forget we have the Holy Spirit as our helper during these conversations and the Lord on our side! This activity and knowledge helps lessen the fear that sometimes surrounds speaking about faith with someone who may be hesitant, and allows discussion participants to be more equipped to share the Good News.
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