I’m almost scared to call myself an evangelical anymore. Not because of what it should mean but because of what some have tried to make it mean. The term evangelical seems to have more political overtones than religious ones these days.
However, there was a time when its definition was obvious, and to most, a very positive one. It was coined during a time when Christianity was booming all over the United States. People were quick to talk and share their faith with neighbors and friends, and God used that to spread His message of hope and grace in an incredible way.
However, after talking with many Christians on the subject, I am wondering if we should use that term at all. Not because of the political connotations but simply because we don’t seem to be very good at evangelizing.
To be an evangelical used to mean that you were active in evangelizing the lost. It meant you shared your faith with others openly and regularly. When I travel and teach I will often do a quick survey of the audience and ask how many of them have shared their faith at least once with a non-Christian. Usually, I see about a third of the audience raise their hands.
Then I will ask how many share their faith on a regular basis, and a much smaller number of people raise their hands. I know this isn’t the most scientific way to conduct research, but it does match up with a LifeWay Research study that showed 61 percent of Christians don’t share their faith on a regular basis. In fact, some studies show that we are much more likely to criticize than evangelize.
Think about how many people in the past had to share their faith for the message to reach your ears. For thousands of years men, women and children from every background have passed on the knowledge of their salvation to others. It has crossed mountains and oceans and overcome incredible struggles just to land at your feet. I cannot think of a greater tragedy than for that message to travel all those miles and all those years just to stop with me.
There is bright spot, however. It turns out that Millennials are much more likely to share their faith then their parents were. I have been amazed lately at the depth and commitment being shown by the younger generation. In spite of all the challenges that face them and the amount of things that fight for their attention, this generation of students are grasping firmly onto their responsibilities as believers to spread the Gospel.
Although God could grow His church any way He wants, He has chosen to grow it primarily through the love and sacrifice of other Christians. This Easter, invite someone to church, and then go one step further and invite them out for lunch. It is through personal relationships that we encounter the most discipleship.
If you have yet to share your faith this year, begin to pray that God would soften your heart for the lost and open your eyes to opportunities. We can’t just assume it is the job of pastors and church staff to reach the lost. God never blesses us just so we can keep that blessing for ourselves. It truly becomes a blessing when we pass it on to others.