Earlier this year, I wrote a blog post called Evangelism From a GenZ Perspective in preparation for our Exponential Global Conference. With evangelism as the central theme, it was on the forefront of our hearts and minds as we entered the week-long equipping session that was Exponential 2023.
At the conference, I had the pleasure of speaking to several influential Christian leaders about evangelism and how GenZ can overcome some of the current obstacles that we face when it comes to sharing the good news of Jesus. My conversation with Christine Caine was full of truth, honesty, and wisdom. Here’s a recap of some of the most important points that I took away from our conversation as an evangelistic GenZer:
What do you see as the biggest hurdle for evangelism and GenZ? How would you encourage us to overcome it?
“Understanding that the exclusivity of Christ is actually loving and not ‘judgy.’ It is not minimizing, it is not bigoted, it is not excluding of others – it is an exclusive message that leads to life. It’s not meant to exclude people – it is actually inclusive of all humanity, but it’s an exclusive way to get to God. This sort ‘exclusive inclusivity’ is quite the challenge for a world that wants to be all loving, all encompassing. [You must be able to] make that jump in your mind that Jesus says, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” [It] can sound extremely exclusive, but it’s an exclusivity that leads to life and hope. That exclusivity is extremely inclusive because “whosoever will” can come.”
“Once you settle the fact that, if you truly believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and there is no other way in which man can be saved but the name of Jesus, then you go all in because that is going to put you at odds with the whole of society no matter how loving you are. At the end of the day, the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. GenZ can think, ‘I don’t want [to make] the same mistakes as the generations before us.’”
Christine’s answers to this question spoke directly to some of the things I presented in my blog post about GenZ evangelism. She gave so much valuable insight to the situation in a way that made me feel heard and understood as a GenZer. This part of our conversation gave me a sense of urgency for the gospel because it is the answer to every question we may have about being politically correct: the gospel is the most inclusive thing you could ever share because the family of God welcomes whosoever believes in the name of Jesus Christ.
What is your evangelism strategy and how would you translate it to GenZ?
“I don’t think there’s a ‘one size fits all.’ Proclamational evangelism is still of very high value. Building bridges, tearing down walls, meeting needs, finding entry points, creating contexts where relationships can be built… to earn the right to preach the gospel is as important to me. It’s not ‘either-or.’”
“We talk a lot about building relationships without an agenda. I don’t know how you can be a Christian without an agenda because we are commissioned to go into all the world and make disciples. Therefore, we live with an agenda.”
I loved Christine’s answer to this question because it exposed the exact reason why I decided to ask it: there is no “right” way to evangelize. I feel that GenZ is very hyper-focused on perfectionism, but that’s not what the gospel calls for, nor is it what Jesus asks of us.
What do you think that it looks like to be bold in evangelism?
“I think it’s having the courage to be obedient to the voice of the Spirit. Boldness sometimes is saying the thing that you know is going to be offensive. Boldness other times is saying nothing.”
“True boldness is to trust the leading of the Holy Spirit through discretion and discernment to know when to say what.”
Christine spoke straight to my heart with this answer. This is something that I have always struggled to balance due to fear, and I think other GenZers would say the same. We cannot put boldness in a box, for the very word itself means being fearless and having a willingness to take risks.
Why is evangelism not a lost cause?
“We are making Jesus’ last commandment our first priority.”
“Because Jesus said it, Jesus ordained it, and Jesus gave us his Spirit to fulfill it, it will be done. Whether it’s done in our generation or not is our choice, but not whether it’s done. It will be done.”
“If I’m looking to the church to determine whether the promises or the commandments of God are going to come to fruition, then I’ll give up hope. If I am looking to the Word and what Jesus promises, then it’s not a lost cause.”
No matter what generation you are in, this is a truth that we can all hold on to. When we feel like there’s no hope for the future of evangelism, we must remember that there is nothing that can stop God’s will. He will continue with or without us. Will you join the cause?
Madison Burnette is a current senior Bible and Theology major at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, TN. She is a Nashville native who aspires to write blogs, Bible studies, devotionals, and curriculum as a form of ministry. Madison is also a Content Team intern with Exponential. Her current favorite Scripture is 2 Corinthians 5:14-21. Check her out on her blog.