In the book of Acts we see Jesus leave the church a vision of a movement when he challenged the earliest Christians to reproduce from their own local context (Jerusalem) into “Judea, Samaria and the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
As multiplication activists, most of us innately understand the power of following Jesus’ personal mission to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). For many of us, this is why we dedicate our lives to ministry. We want to share the gospel with the hurting people and broken communities around us. We embrace the practices of evangelism because we experience the power and love of Jesus every single day. We personally know Jesus and we want to make him known.
Even as this is the case, we see fewer new people coming into our church buildings and even fewer becoming followers of Jesus.
This leads us to question what is happening in our communities. How have we disconnected from Jesus’ direction and his mission?
According to Barna Research: nearly half of Millennial practicing Christians say it is wrong to evangelize (47%). But at the same time Christians still recognize that evangelism was central to Jesus’ mission with “Two out of three Millennial practicing Christians believe being a witness about Jesus is part of their faith (65%).” The embrace of contradictory statements creates confusion about evangelism that results in churches developing a lackluster approach to reaching the lost.
This data might lead us to believe that evangelism is a lost cause for the modern Christian church.
It is true that the vocabulary and practice of sharing the gospel has shifted and changed across geographies, cultures, and historical moments between the Acts era and now. Currently, it seems that “evangelism” is a taboo word and “evangelizing” often comes across as culturally inappropriate.
Scripture shows that while evangelism might appear to be a lost cause in 2022, God’s commitment to evangelism is relentless, ultimate, and ongoing. Romans 5:8 explains that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this, while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” While we sinners persist in rejecting him, God continually pursues us through the ministry, grace, and resurrection realities of our savior, Jesus.
Whether our collective focus is on this topic or not, God remains on a mission to restore a broken relationship with every single person we encounter. Lost people matter to God and it is his desire that all come to know him.
In the coming months, we’re going to have many heart-to-heart conversations about what it means to adopt and embrace the vision and values of Jesus through the practice and work of evangelism. On our blog, through our resources, and during our global conference in Orlando, we’re going to revitalize this topic and work together to bring it back to life in our everyday interactions with other people, in our churches, and in our communities.
During this time, we’re introducing a new tool we’ve developed to help you move this topic from discussion into practice.
Our Lost Cause Workbook series, developed by myself and expert evangelist Dr. Rick Richardson, will lead you through a discovery process about your current understanding of evangelism in your own context and how you can help others in your sphere of influence both better understand evangelism and practice techniques of evangelism where they live, work, and play.
The series consists of five workbooks that will be released every few weeks beginning in November 2022 and ending in February 2023. Each PDF includes a mix of teaching content, reflection questions, and space for crafting your own plan for evangelism. We crafted these workbooks to move you from page to plan. We want you taking action in your community. The answer spaces are “fillable,” meaning you can type directly into the document, save your thoughts on your device, and carry your workbooks with you.
Download Workbook 1 today to get started.
In March, we’ll gather in Orlando for deeper conversations about evangelism and whether or not it is a lost cause. We hope you’ll join us.
Dave Ferguson is the CEO / President and co-founder for Exponential. He is also the lead pastor of Community Christian Church, an innovative multi-site missional community that is passionate about “helping people find their way back to God.” Community has grown from a few college friends to thousands every weekend meeting at multiple locations in the Chicago area and has been recognized as one of America’s most influential churches. Dave provides visionary leadership for NewThing, a global movement of multiplying churches. He is an award-winning author of eight books, including “Hero Maker: 5 Essential Practices for Leaders to Multiply Leaders.” Dave and his wife, Sue, live in Naperville IL. They have three adult children – Amy, Joshua and Caleb.