The first step a young man takes toward a woman who he thinks might be his future is delicate. The operative words seem to be "sensitive" and "careful" and "first impressions matter." As in love, so in "gospeling" (or evangelism). When Peter preached at Pentecost, he opened his sermon with a time-honored citation of Scripture and then sketched, in third person, what had happened to Jesus. Only then did he zero in on his audience: "and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death" (Acts 2:23). When Paul got behind the dais on the Areopagus, he opened with one of the most seeker-sensitive sermons in history: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious" (17:22). With that opening Paul paved a way to warn the Greeks of the coming judgment. These examples show that biblical evangelism is marked by both boldness and sensitivity to audience.
Teaching twenty-somethings for nearly 15 years has made me acutely aware of a significant trend. It has everything to do with what to assume when it comes to evangelism.
Emerging adults (those between 18 and 30) form a generation that is largely insensitive to the potency of God's holiness, and are therefore insensitive to the magnificence of his grace, the shocking nature of his love, and that gratitude forms the core of the Christian life. Some today complain about these matters. But I doubt very much that ramping up moral exhortations and warning about an endless hell are the proper places to begin with emerging adults. Paul was sensitive to his audience; we need to be as well.
Self in a castle
The typical emerging adult, if I can capture the trend in one expression, is a "self in a castle." ...