Even those trained, experienced, active, humble, and consistent in sharing their faith are finding it increasingly difficult. The message that Jesus paid a debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay has never changed, but America’s receptivity to that message certainly has. Activists, politicians, educators, and media are erecting a fortress to prevent Christians from imposing their beliefs on “innocent victims”. That fortress rests on 7 rebar-reinforced pillars designed collectively to ensure evangelism falls on deaf ears.
Extricating America from hundreds of years of Christian influence can’t be done overnight, but the path from protection to prevention to persecution is well documented. Precedents set in countries where evangelism has been criminalized begin by casting Christianity as a threat to national interests and the social order. Christians are pushed from the mainstream to the fringe by calling into question their values and motives. Since it’s impossible to implicate Jesus, His followers become the targets, portrayed as oppressors seeking dominion over oppressed non-believers. In that environment, sharing one’s faith becomes viewed as an attempt to manipulate and control rather than to love and rescue.
Without evangelism training, a rarity in America’s churches, few Christians know how to respond to those accusations. Studies reveal only around 50% have witnessed to someone in the past year, not surprising when just under 50% (of Christian Millennials) question whether it’s right to do so. Those brave enough to stick out their necks and obey the Great Commission risk making enemies in today’s post-Christian culture. The intimidation factor and roadblocks will only increase as the 7 pillars are driven deeper into the bedrock of our society…
1. No Offense
- Redefine the word love to mean not causing anyone discomfort, by definition precluding any mention of Christ around “atheists” or those practicing other faiths
- Redefine intolerance to mean belief in moral absolutes, by definition labeling Christians as bigots, silencing their voices in the public square
On that basis, anyone holding a biblical worldview – in other words, those deemed hateful and intolerant – may be “cancelled”. The answer for Christians isn’t to cower or to offend – but to debunk those revised definitions by imitating Jesus, who loved unconditionally, particularly those who felt judged, while never compromising His moral standards.
2. No Sin
Next, eliminate any perceived need for Jesus by removing “sin” from society’s lexicon:
- Diminish the value of forgiveness, which is only required if there’s a (sin) debt to pay – so without any bad news there can’t be any “good news” (i.e. the Gospel)
- Consider any reference to “sin” attempted exploitation by Christians – and since the Gospel can’t be shared without invoking that concept, render evangelism powerless
Our culture frowns on offending non-believers but encourages offending our Father (i.e. through sin) and His children. Rather than responding with anger, Christians should be wise as serpents (e.g. recognize virtue signaling is feigning offense to avoid being offended) and gentle as doves (e.g. understand deep down everyone knows they’re not perfect and seeks absolution). As Jesus, Peter and Paul modeled, we can’t witness without addressing the need for repentance and reconciliation.
3. No Conscience
Eradicating offense and “sin” still leaves a God-given conscience that, unless squelched, risks vulnerability to future evangelistic encounters with Christians:
- Deprogram conscience by violating it repeatedly while dismissing guilt as an arcane conception of Christians designed to suppress and oppress
- Claim that human nature is innately good and the ultimate evil is making anyone feel sinful or guilty
- Blame rampant escapism (addiction, depression and suicide) on the intolerance of Christians, not guilt over sinful lifestyles
To tear down this roadblock to evangelism, repentance must begin within the church. Wrestling with our own sin publicly rather than concealing it would make non-believers more open to confessing their own. Activating dormant consciences requires Christians act less like the older brother in the prodigal son story and more like the father. By reflecting the Lord’s merciful nature, we illuminate mankind’s depraved nature.
4. No Consequences
With those first 3 pillars in place, an additional complexity for those bent on neutralizing evangelism is the persistent fear of death and uncertainty about what follows. Therefore:
- Mock belief in God as irrational, uneducated, and outdated to squash any latent concern about meeting Him one day and facing judgment
- Emphasize the (apparent) inconsistency of a loving God meting out wrath on “innocent” people in the Old Testament and in Hell for eternity
The premise missed by those allegations is that God is a Father, so discipline is consistent with His character. Evangelism must address God’s wrath (for those who scoff at His Son’s sacrifice for our sins) in order to accentuate HIs goodness, offering us a way of escape. Do we truly believe there’s a Hell if we never share about Jesus with those we love?
5. No Identity
A society that rids itself of offense, sin, conscience, and consequences quickly develops an identity crisis. Without a Father, spiritual orphans devoid of purpose and meaning must:
- Replace the God-shaped hole with alternative identifiers like gender or sexuality
- Seek acceptance among those welcoming anyone who abides by the first 4 pillars
- Associate all Christians with the worst among us to ensure the fatherless don’t look for identity as a child of our Father when Selfism inevitably runs its hopeless course
To keep the door open for evangelism, Christians must strike Jesus’ delicate balance between acceptance and accepting – welcoming “sinners” (like us) into the family but not overlooking “sin”. Children of a loving Father should want (and be expected) to obey Him.
6. No Religion
If all else fails, layer on top of the 5 previous pillars the cultural norm that bringing up religion is not socially acceptable. Evangelism becomes taboo and receptivity plummets:
- Ensure a declining base of knowledge about the fundamentals of Christianity
- Conflate politics and religion, playing the separation of church and state card
- Keep Christians at arms-length to maintain fragile illusions, fake IDs, and the unfettered right to live guilt-free
As long as secular humanists consider Christianity just another (man-made) religion and not a real relationship with the Creator of the universe, it becomes easy to dismiss. Evangelism should demonstrate how our faith is unique in that all others hinge on what humans must do to fix what we broke, a task far beyond our capabilities – but not Jesus’.
7. No Truth
Finally, to guarantee no evangelism slips through the cracks, declare that truth either doesn’t exist or is whatever the government or each person decides that it is:
- Teach that only what can be seen can be believed, demanding proof God exists
- Cobble together a worldview that doesn’t infringe on any of the other pillars
- Deny the irrefutable evidence that Jesus lived, died, and was resurrected
Entrusting truth claims to brains that evolved randomly from inanimate matter is illogical. Christianity explains how we developed the intellectual capacity to evaluate anything’s validity and veracity. In sharing our faith with those who reject the concept (of faith), Christians should point out the irony that it takes more faith to believe something came from nothing. Without being confrontational, it’s also worth noting the presumption required to assert with absolute certainty that the imperceptible is inconceivable as if anything ceases to exist when our finite minds decide it doesn’t.
It’s Your Turn…
What additional steps should churches and Christians take before our culture finishes constructing an impenetrable fortress through which no evangelism can pass?