A church planter, working downtown in a major West Coast city, has led his young adult church members to have over 7,000 gospel conversations with people in their community in the past three years. They have discovered people – even secularists in a never-Christian-culture urban area – who have a positive view of Jesus. They report 94% of respondents have said they were willing to have a conversation with a friend about Jesus. About half of the people contacted have agreed Jesus is the Son of God (even though they have never really studied the issue). Some impressions:
First, thank God for a church planter who is aggressively engaging people with the gospel. Rather than pontificate gospel theory, he is sharing the gospel and leading others to do the same. May God give us many more like him!
Second – wow! – 7,000 witnessing conversations in three years. This younger church of mostly millennials doesn’t believe the myth Christians are supposed to be shy, embarrassed, or reticent about gospel-sharing. They talk about Jesus as naturally, and more often, than they talk about their favorite movie or team.
Third, having seen them in action, they impressed me with their creativity in modeling the gospel while sharing it. They are serving their community - hands-dirty type of serving - and gaining credibility with every meal served, person clothed, and human need met. When complimented on their service achievements, one church member told me, “Thanks, but it’s not about just doing stuff for people. We are here to tell them about Jesus.” These young Christians aren’t debating serving people vs. sharing the gospel. They keep it biblical and just do both.
Finally, these urban dynamos and their converts are creating a church emerging from and reflecting their culture. They are doing what international missionaries do all the time – enculturating the gospel and developing culture-current churches that look different in every context. These latte-drinking, distressed-jeans-wearing, technology-dependent, tattooed believers in t-shirts are part of the future of urban evangelism and church planting.
Next generation methods sometimes create unnecessary resistance from other Christians focusing too much on surface issues rather than asking the right question about these methods. The key question is, “Are these next-gen believers sharing the gospel and calling people to be fully devoted followers of Jesus in submission to his Word?” The answer, at least in this church, is a resounding yes.
Older leaders – like me – have a choice: cheerlead these efforts or criticize them for being different. Hand me the pom-poms!