Evangelism: More Impossible Than It Used To Be (Part 1)

This is part 1 of a 2-part series by Randy Newman, taken from his blog –Connection Points.  In part 1, Randy explains some changes he has observed over time in our motivation for evangelism.  In part 2, he will point to a liberating insight from Scripture.

I’ve noticed some changes in Christians’ attitudes and motivations in evangelism over the years. A while ago, many Christians evangelized out of guilt. They felt so bad that they hadn’t told their friends about Jesus that they just had to “get it off their chests.” This was not ideal.

Then, for a while, we proclaimed the good news with confidence in our methods and apologetic firepower. We had answers – lots of them! No one was going to stump us. So, we shared the good news of grace with the bad attitude of pride. This was even worse than the guilt-ridden days.

In the past few years, I’ve heard another motivation expressed in numerous ways – compassion. More and more Christians, I sense, don’t know what to say to their non-Christian friends but they feel burdened to do so out of love. Their friends’ lives are falling apart and Jesus can help them. I’m greatly encouraged by this trend. When we proclaim the gospel out of concern for people, they feel a qualitative difference than when we exude pride, guilt, anger, or superiority.

Recently, I’m hearing another attitude creep in – Despair.

As I conduct evangelism training seminars, I’m sensing some pushback that wasn’t there just a few years ago. Believers tell me the answers we offer to outsiders might be true and accurate and Biblical. “But they just won’t work. People will just think we’re crazy,” they tell me. “They won’t even listen!”

I do agree the temperature has gotten hotter when it comes to gospel conversations. And I do not deny that our task has gotten more difficult. Put another way, we have more work to do in pre-evangelism and plausibility building than we used to.

This is part 1 of a 2-part series by Randy Newman.

Randy will be a featured speaker at: How Will They Hear? Christianity Explored Conference 2019 in Nashville May 4.


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