Helping people come to faith in Jesus used to be as easy as 1-2-3.
1. Invite a friend to church.
2. The friend comes to church.
3. The preacher closes the deal.
(That’s New Testament evangelism, right? Uh, maybe not.)
It’s harder today.
In my previous post, Are Churches Fixing Problems No One Cares About? I wrote about why people don’t want to go to church today.
They’re not angry, they’re apathetic.
But where is this apathy coming from?
Look at the first step, above. The critical first element isn't the invitation, it's having a friend who makes the invitation.
The biggest roadblock to evangelism today may be as simple and as sad as this: we don’t know our neighbors like we used to. In one well-documented statistic, twenty percent of Americans say they don’t know any Christians.
This is a crucial problem, because there's one reason above all others that opens people up to the gospel. People become willing to consider Jesus when they like and trust the Christians they know.
People need to know us before they can trust us. And they need to trust us before they’ll go to church with us.
We have to be the church before they’ll go to church.
But what does that look like today?
I started compiling a list. Originally it was seven points long. Now it’s 11. If I waited another few days it could hit 20 or more.
So this list is not definitive. And the points in it are not without fault.
But there’s also nothing weird or funky-new in it either. Some of it may feel radical. But only because taking our faith seriously outside the walls of the church feels radical.
1. Pray for Them
Not in that Christian-esque "I'll say a prayer for you" way. We need to make it a priority to pray for our unchurched family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. All the strategies and friendliness in the world won't make any difference without this.
2. Build Relationships with No Strings Attached
No one wants to be someone else's project. They always know when they are. They can smell it.
When someone doesn't want to be recruited, stop recruiting and just love people like Jesus did. He’ll take care of the rest.
3. Play the Long Game
Overcoming apathy doesn't happen overnight. It takes years, sometimes decades. But in the light of eternity, it's more than worth the investment.