Home Voices Generational Shifts in Evangelism: Addressing Our Evangelistic Lull

Generational Shifts in Evangelism: Addressing Our Evangelistic Lull

I think there’s some merit to that, but too often church planting is more likely to be reorganizing Christians into cooler churches rather than doing evangelism effectively. For a while a new church would send out a mailer that basically said all the other churches are boring and ours is cool. When I planted a church in Erie, Pennsylvania, we did some of those mailers. At the time there were no contemporary churches in the area. We reached a lot of people. We baptized 2/3 of the adult attendees of that church and were thrilled to see lives change. But after more than 20 years of planting cool churches around the country, there’s a “cool church” in almost every community. But what about evangelism?

Addressing the Lull in Evangelism Today

Evangelistic shifts never have clear cut lines. There are some people doing mass events, like Greg Laurie, Will Graham, and others. Cru still is on college campuses around the country. There are still churches who are growing by doing seeker targeted services, and there are church plants who are good at evangelizing their communities. But on the whole, we are in a time when people are less attracted to the large events, increasingly unlikely to open their door to a door-to-door evangelist, wary of high production church services, and isn’t altogether interested in the next cool church in town. Many are actually more suspicious than receptive to these methods.

We are in a time now where there is what I call a lull in evangelism. A lot of people have simply lost their passion for the Great Commission.  

There has been an unintentional but clear shift away from intentional evangelism. There are multitudes of ministries right now doing all kinds of good things in Jesus’ name. But evangelism has little or no focus in them. It’s been pushed to the margins. Those doing these ministries will often say something like, “We still care about evangelism, too.” 

But here’s the problem: when you’re saying, “We still care about evangelism” today, you are about a decade away from not caring about evangelism at all (in fact the “too” already implies that it’s an afterthought). That which is neglected in one generation is typically rejected in the next. We don’t drift toward evangelism, and when it’s not a core priority it eventually becomes no priority at all. 

It’s time to make evangelism great, telling the old story in new ways, all over again.