A recent Barna study showed that nearly half of all Millennial Christians think that evangelism isn’t proper for a follower of Christ to practice. Click here.
It’s a bothersome finding, especially when you consider that our Lord was rather fond of the idea that his people “make disciples” and “fish for men” and “not hide their light under baskets” and “acknowledge him before people”. These activities point to a fourth metaphor the Bible uses to describe the Church. That of a “battalion”.
Actually, Scripture doesn’t specifically identify the Church with such a label. But the shoe fits because the Bible is filled with military references to faith. “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus,” Paul wrote Timothy (2 Tim.2:3). Christians are to be vigilant to armor up (Ephesians 6:10-17). David said of God, “You train my hands for war” (Psalm 18:34).
The church is an army of soldiers fighting to rescue people from their captivity to sin and to Satan (2 Tim.2:26; Col.1:13). It’s “through the Church that the wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10). In other words, it’s through the Church that God intends to rub the devil’s nose into the fact that he may win some battles, but he’s lost the war. The meek will indeed inherit the earth.
Christ left the church on the earth for the precise purpose of being his hands and feet to reach this lost world for him. “The Church is God’s Plan A, and there is no Plan B,” someone once said. Therefore a healthy church will equip the saints on how to do this, by providing training and encouragement for outreach and evangelism.
But if we can be honest, many Christians – not just the Millennials – and entire churches struggle to prioritize and practice evangelism.
It’s easy to see why Millennials might struggle with this. They’ve grown up in a post-modern world which denies that there is any such thing as Truth, especially spiritual truth. And they breathe the air of “multiculturalism” which has drilled into them since childhood the maxim that no culture, or country or religion is “better” than another.
How do we recapture the importance of evangelism? We have to do some deeper thinking to get to that place. We can’t just think biblically by reciting the verses which tell us to share our faith. We need to press on to think theologically on why this is important to do. And when we really start to reflect on it, answers present themselves.
Some of the questions we need to ask ourselves are:
Why is it legitimate to speak of the “supremacy” of Christ? What makes him different, and yes, “better” than the other religious leaders which have arisen over time?
What is life-giving about Christian values and ethics, compared to those of other worldviews, religions and philosophies? Jesus promised that those who put his teachings into practice would experience more stability and strength than those who followed other paths (Matthew 7:24-27). How might that be true?
How has the world been made better across time because followers of Christ were acting as salt and light in the places where God planted them? And how would the world be made better if there were more practicing Christ-followers running around today?
Once you begin coming up with some solid answers to these questions, the need – even urgency – to get on the battlefield and start winning souls for Christ, will well up within you. It won’t be thought of as inappropriate, or a drudgery, but a necessity, and even privilege.
Bear Clifton is a pastor, writer and screenwriter. His blogs and devotionals can be enjoyed at his ministry website: trainyourselfministry.com and his writing website: blclifton.com. Bear is the author of “Train Yourself To Be Godly: A 40 Day Journey Toward Sexual Wholeness”, “Ben-Hur: The Odyssey”, and “A Sparrow Could Fall”, all available through Amazon.
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