Last week I shared two reasons why I had changed my evangelism message. The evangelism tracks didn’t voice my broken heart for the lost; I wanted to focus on living a blessed life today, whereas the tracks wanted to focus on heaven. And secondly, I wanted to tell the Gospel as Jesus and the Apostles told it; but, the evangelism tracks had adopted a very different message than Jesus.
There was a third reason, too, that was gnawing at my conscience to take a new evangelism approach, especially with anti-Christians.
I know a little when it comes to being an anti-Christian. I spent the first 50 years of my life distancing myself as far from Jesus as I could, as well as those who followed Him. I wanted nothing to do with Christians or their way of life. Looking back, I learned many lessons during that time that have better prepared me for evangelizing. They have given me a way of relating to the people the Holy Spirit leads me to approach. In a sense, I have the opportunity to know what the non-Christian is thinking before they even speak.
Fifty years of solid bias against Christianity doesn’t fade from memory quickly. My dislike for Christian culture was (is) still fresh. I know why I didn’t like you, and I know why I thought you were pathetically duped into believing something silly. Yes, I was anti-Christian.
I have no intention of hurting your feelings. Still, if you never know why people dislike and disrespect you as a Christian, you’ll never become an effective witness for Christ, particularly if you are sowing in hard ground. The list is long, but let’s expose the most important few.
How the Anti-Christian and Non-Christian Sees You
• You are a hypocrite. You tell me I’m a sinner while you sin.
• You are prejudiced. You tell me Jesus loves me, yet you hate gays, liberals, and indigenous people.
• You are superstitious. You think that just because I repeat a prayer, I’m going to heaven.
• You are delusional. You think you can beam your fake happiness at me, and I will ask you why you are different? I already know why you are different—and I don’t like you and your evil club!
Once again, I am not trying to be mean. But better for you to hear it from a friend than wonder why your seeds are not penetrating the hard soil.
You are not living in a Christian country. There are no Christian countries on this planet. I urge you to let go of your view of the past and take stock of today’s culture.
Increasingly, you are living in a country that believes you are the problem, not a solution. Your reasoning and beliefs, the populace say, are the reason for every evil perpetrated against every non-white, non-male. “Freedom from Religion” is their chant because religion is the cause of hatred, prejudice, bigotry, and violence. And the worst one on the list, so the narrative goes, is Christianity. The world, it is believed, would be a far better place if they could eliminate every vestige of Christianity.
As you read these words, you probably think I exaggerate or talk about a limited extreme view. You would be wrong. The anti-Christian perspective is pervasive.
Please do not underestimate the shift in western culture over the past fifty years. It is a powerful current that has swept through every corner of western society. You may think I am exaggerating because you haven’t heard it said out loud, but friendly people don’t say what they are thinking—and even if you ask them, most people will not tell you their true feelings about Christianity. It is best to assume everyone you speak to believes some or all these viewpoints.
Even if you think I am exaggerating, please do not play into their hands. Misguided evangelists are turning the population against Christ every day. There may have been a time when a bull horn and a sandwich sign that reads, “Repent Or Go To Hell!” worked. But if that was effective in the past, the sun has set on that day long ago. And one could argue: if that was such a great idea, why didn’t Jesus and the Apostles do that?
Therefore, I changed my approach to witnessing through a confluence of practical experience, scripture reading, insider knowledge of anti-Christian views, and the Holy Spirit. The central question I kept asking myself was: Why am I using an approach that doesn’t voice my broken heart, doesn’t fit Jesus and the Apostle’s methods, and worse yet, feeds bullets into their already loaded gun?
Let me be clear. I have never felt any of the evangelism approaches I’ve read were unscriptural (perhaps there are some-I don’t claim to be familiar with every system). But that’s partly my point: there are many ways of presenting the Gospel. I needed a way to breathe the way, truth, and life into today’s western hard ground, into that person standing in front of me.
I am not claiming my way is best, better, or perfect. My purpose in writing this booklet is to give you another perspective. This booklet provides you with my detailed approach and my scriptural reasoning in how I speak love into the broken, model the gospels and Acts (as I interpret them), and make my best attempt to be effective in the culture I live in.
Your approach isn’t wrong because it misses the mark on any of the three above criteria. Those are my criteria, and I might have a different take than you. Furthermore, just because your approach doesn’t match the book of Acts doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
For example, the famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” (American theologian Jonathan Edwards) was not how Jesus and the Apostles preached. Yet, it worked fabulously well in the 1740’s American culture into which it was spoken. It was the right approach in that culture. In my opinion, however, that same sermon preached on the average street corner in today’s western countries would be misguided.
And there are nearly countless other sermons that are equally scripturally sound but are misfiring, indeed backfiring, in the reality of today’s culture. Without the right approach, it almost seems as if the louder we speak, the louder the anti-Christian response becomes. So let’s make certain we are speaking like Jesus and the apostles!
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this is part of an eight-week series that will be published every Friday morning. The inspiration for this series came from my latest book, “Sowing In Hard Ground,” which can be purchased through this link. Until next week, God bless!