A Response to “Almost Half of Practicing Christian Millennials Say Evangelism is Wrong” by Barna Group
I’m a millennial. Even though it’s just within the window, I still qualify since I was born in 1985.
Millennials have many defining characteristics attributed to them. Some are well earned, some are unfair, and as in this case, some are hypocritically ironic. Barna Group’s recent research highlighting generational views toward evangelism identified that almost fifty percent of those born from 1984 to 1998 believe that it is wrong to share one’s personal beliefs with someone of a different faith. Given the explicit commands to proclaim the Gospel and share our faith, this is concerning. As a millennial, a few key thoughts come to mind to challenge this trend.
It is ironic that while we’ve grown quite comfortable with targeted marketing popping up everywhere on our devices, and even encouraging the church to adopt more relevant practices along those lines, that we would draw the line at the Great Commission. So while church podcasts, social media, and search engine optimization are acceptable, actually proclaiming Christ crucified for sinners as the only way to be right with God and have eternal life is not. Do you see a disconnect? How can we be so accepting of marketing the church while simultaneously objecting to personally making much of Christ and his atoning work in our daily interactions?
At the core of the millennial objection to personal evangelism is the belief that beliefs shouldn’t be imposed upon others. At first glance, that seems admirable, but there are troublesome underlying presuppositions.
First, this belief presupposes that contradictory views can be equally correct. Christians can believe that Christ was God incarnate who rose from the dead and place their faith in his atoning work, so long as they can also agree that Jesus was only a good teacher that points the way to a more loving world. However, the two are incompatible, and such relativistic notions are illogical.
Second, it presupposes that the exclusivity of Christ within the Christian worldview is a bad thing. When you hold all worldviews up to the light, you’re able to see that each holds to exclusivity. So Christians are not alone in the exclusivity of their truth claims. The preachers of relativism proclaim that their view is correct while trying to convince anyone with a worldview that holds exclusive truth claims to be open minded. Sadly, Christians far too easily buy these faulty presuppositions and are often ill-equipped to engage with them critically. A quick examination, however, points out the flaw in the logic.
Is the object of Christianity’s faith true or isn’t it? Is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead real or isn’t it? Did Jesus Christ make specific truth claims and give commands to his followers as recorded in Scripture or didn’t he? Ultimately, the answers to those questions settle whether or not Christians should evangelize. How absurd would it be to think that it is wrong to share the reality of a round Earth with flat-Earthers? If we truly believe in the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection as well as exclusive salvation in Christ, then that faith reality should be shared because it is reality. Neglecting to do so is immoral.
Scripture Reality Check
Scripture offers clear imperatives of sharing the good news of Christ. The Great Commission is a clarion call to go out and proclaim, baptize, and disciple those of differing faiths and worldviews (Matthew 28:16-20). 1 Peter 3:15 reminds Christians to be ready to answer inquiries about our faith with the caveat of doing so with gentleness and respect. Romans 10:9-17 emphasizes the necessity of belief in Christ as well as the significance of sending, preaching, and hearing the Gospel.
These are only a few of the examples of what the Bible calls Christians to in sharing their faith. Even if these few examples stood alone, which they don’t, Christians could not avoid the reality of such a clear mandate from our Lord. Add to that the host of other biblically explicit commands along those lines, and the implicit examples of sharing faith in the New Testament, and you reach the inescapable conclusion that the Gospel is meant to be proclaimed to all people by all believers.
The notion that it is wrong to share one’s Christian faith with those of differing beliefs is inconsistent, illogical, immoral, and ignorant of fundamental biblical truth. However, if millennials, or followers of Christ from any generation, merely take a moment to consider the absurdity, they’d then recognize the profound simplicity of sharing one’s faith.
After all, the good news is neither good nor news if it remains unshared.