All people seem to possess an innate ability to share a gospel message. Whether it’s an exercise regimen, a holistic health remedy, a debt-reduction strategy, or any of a myriad of other supposed life-hacks, people of all personality types are bold and courageous when it comes to championing their good news message.
The words used give insight into the worshipful undertones they purport: “life-altering” and “transformative” seem to top the list. The relative value of such plans or products aside, the way they captivate our attention and our conversations provide insight into the lack of evangelistic fervor demonstrated by many supposed followers of Jesus.
What’s required for people to speak good news?
First, a shared need
The assumption driving good news messages is that all people have a common need, even those who might not know they do. People can relate to feeling fatigued from time to time, struggling with nagging health challenges, battling a pervasive mental fog, wishing their waistline was a bit smaller, or the fear of living paycheck to paycheck.
These challenges seem common, so when someone has an apparent solution to remedy one or more of these problems, it’s assumed that everyone else needs the answer as well. We’d be foolish or selfish to keep a message to ourselves if so many of our friends and family members are looking for answers to the same questions.
Could our evangelistic apathy be traced, at least in part, to a minimization of sin and the necessity of salvation from the wrath of God due to all sinners?
Second, personal transformation
Those gossiping their good news life-hacks have personally benefited from the message they share. For some, this benefit is financial. They communicate a message and receive financial benefit from a product’s sales. More often, such capitalistic impulses are not the primary driving impetus, however.
The good news bearer is testifying to an idea that has added value to his or her life—weight loss, mental focus, gut health, financial freedom. It’s not that these benefits don’t exist, but that those who are sharing the good news message have personally experienced these benefits.
But the good news doesn’t stop there. Often, these individuals will testify to the spill-over effect into other areas of life. Because of enhanced health, they are now better able to engage in the overall demands of life. Hence, their gospel message is life-altering in the truest sense of the word.
Is a lack of personal transformation at the root of our evangelistic apathy?
Third, focused conviction
These good news messages littering our daily conversations also point to the necessity of personal conviction. People speak about the good news message that they believe works. The goal isn’t merely physical health or financial freedom, but it is a particular pill, drink, bar, regime, budget, method, or tool that is thought to be the best route of getting to that goal.
Vague, theoretical aspirations don’t promote good news messages; instead, we need a specific answer to how people get to a desired end. We tell people about the path we’ve discovered in hopes that they will likewise choose the narrow way that we are convinced is the actual answer they need.
Is a lack of personal conviction that the good news of Jesus is the singular hope for the whole earth at the root of our evangelistic apathy?
Fourth, clear messaging
Good news requires sticky language and an intentional message. We don’t meander through life-altering, transformative truth claims; we declare them boldly.
The process of the message is the same every time. First, establish the need. Then, introduce the solution and demonstrate the transformation it brings. Finally, invite the listener to act.
Those who excel in their good news messages work this plan to perfection. Each day, each post, each coffee shop conversation is merely spinning back through these same three categories with different content. We link to articles, post pictures, share research, and give discounts following this Marketing 101 pathway. The repetition of a clear, compelling message allows hearers to understand the good news and exactly how they can get on board.
Is the fact that fewer church attendees are able to clearly articulate the message of Jesus and call others to repentance and faith at the root of our evangelistic apathy?
Finally, intentional relationships
The good news message run along relational networks. The first to learn of our life-hacks are those with the relational proximity to see the benefits firsthand. Our families, neighbors, co-workers, or classmates are around us enough to know whether or not something has genuinely been transformative.
From there, we venture out into secondary relationships via social media or broader relational networks. And, depending on the degree of zeal, good news messengers won’t be stopped by relational distance. A total stranger in a restaurant or in an adjacent seat on an airplane is likely to hear just how good our good news actually is.
Could it be that we are squandering the built-in relationships in our lives and wasting daily opportunities for good news snippets, thereby contributing to our evangelistic apathy?
One thing is certain: People will always speak of truth that transforms. It’s unavoidable.
The answer to evangelistic apathy isn’t an attempt to motivate passive people to speak of good news; the solution is to get all of us who are zealous to communicate good news to harness that energy and intentionality into winsome, consistent witness to the one Truth that’s truly transformative—not only for this life but the next as well.
Matt Rogers is a pastor at The Church at Cherrydale in Greenville, South Carolina. He has a Ph.D. in Applied Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Southeastern and an M.A. in Biblical Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.