LAUREN HOLBROOK | GUEST
What comes to your mind when you hear the word evangelism? You may have a memory of hearing the gospel for the first time at a VBS or you were blessed to hear a missionary share an incredible testimony of someone in their community coming to faith. For me I think back to my experience of beach evangelism, which was a key component of my summers serving with a college ministry. This one hour in my week was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time!
Through my 12 years of college ministry experience, my primary framework for evangelism came from Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” I received incredible training and felt equipped to talk about spiritual things. Often the Lord provided an opportunity, and I would share the bridge diagram or another evangelistic tool to clearly articulate the good news of the gospel to my friend or neighbor. My passion was fueled by the Great Commission, and this is what led my family to say yes to the call of church planting.
Church Planting to the “Post-Christian”
What I did not realize is the way I went about evangelism on a college campus in the Southeast is very different than the method of evangelism I used during my time of church planting in the Northeast. My husband and I had the privilege of church planting in Fairfield, Connecticut, which is a commuter town about an hour outside of New York City. Although we were located in New England, a region where revival had come during the Great Awakening, the spiritual climate there today is primarily “post-Christian.” Our area was named as one of the top 10 post Christian cities in America according to the Barna Group. To qualify as “post-Christian,” individuals had to meet criteria like:
- Do not believe in God
- Identify as atheist or agnostic
- Disagree that faith is important in their lives
- Have not prayed to God (in the last week)
- Have never made a commitment to Jesus
- Have not attended a Christian church (in the last 6 months)
- Have not read the Bible (in the last week)
- Not Born Again
Most of my neighbors, mom friends, teachers in my daughter’s school, and other acquaintances would check these boxes and identify themselves as a non-religious person. They did not believe in God. They did not consider faith an important part of their lives. They also had an aversion to evangelism.
So how do you bring the good news to someone who wants nothing to do with Christianity?
“Be Human” Evangelism
We practiced what is called “be human evangelism.” There is so much beauty in our humanness because Gen. 1:27 says, “we were created in his own image.” Because we are image bearers, our character and action display the glory and beauty of Christ. And in a post-Christian context, our actions as believers speak louder than words.
Why is this true? In Exodus chapter 33 and 34, Moses pleaded with the Lord to go with Israel into the Promise Land. He said in verse 16, “How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
What distinguishes a Christian from the rest of the world? It is the glorious presence of Jesus Christ with us wherever we go. If you keep reading in verse 18 Moses says, “Now show me your glory.” And Exodus 34:29 says, “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.”
Did you know, sister, that your face is radiant when you go to work, care for your children at home, serve in the children’s ministry at your church? You shine because the very GLORY of God is with you. As Philippians 2:14-15 says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you SHINE (emphasis mine) as lights in the world.”
How do we shine?
- It may be a kind word when someone speaks harshly to you
- Hosting unchurched women in your home
- Asking intentional questions to make someone feel that their story has value
- Validating someone’s suffering
- Genuinely loving your neighbor without expecting anything in return
- Seeking to be a helper in your workplace, your neighborhood school, your church
How is this possible? How can we bring the good news to others simply through thinking biblically and living covenantally?
During our years in Connecticut, my husband coached my children’s soccer team. It was a family affair, with practices, games, pizza parties, and team celebrations. One of the little girls on the team loved my daughter and our family loved her. One day, we found out that her father lost his job, and they were being evicted out of their home. Immediately, our church gathered to help them pack up and move into an apartment. They did not really understand why these strangers were helping them. This generosity made the dad very curious and hungry to know more about the gospel. For two years this family attended church, children’s events, and worship services and eventually the Lord brought the child’s father to Christ. Since then, the whole family has become members of our church and are actively serving the community themselves.
During the winter months in Connecticut the sun sets around 4:30pm. This is not just a figurative metaphor but also a spiritual one. For the one story I shared above, I have ten stories of friends we loved who never expressed a desire to follow Jesus. We all can attest to the spiritual darkness that looms around every corner in every context where we live. But when a Christian enters a room, they shine brighter because the GLORY of God goes with them. As John 1:5 says, “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Be yourself. Be authentic. Be human.
And you will shine bright for Christ wherever you go.
 https://www.barna.com/research/post-christian-cities-2019/June 5, 2019
Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash