By: Samuel Aragones
In my youth programs, I always try to institute some form of Q&A Night, where students and parents get to send in anonymous questions regarding life, faith, and the Bible. And one of the most frequently asked questions I get from pastors, parents, and students is: “How on earth do I share the gospel?”
This is a broad topic and one many have dealt with far better than I could. Still, my hope in writing and addressing this topic of evangelism (or “sharing the gospel”) with Generation Z is that I wish to offer my particular perspective as a Millennial pastor who serves in the multicultural, ever-liberal city of Toronto, ON, Canada. Therefore, this is the first installment of a more extended series of articles surrounding Evangelism and Gen. Z.
In my experience when sharing the gospel with teens in Generation Z, I admit there are cultural and value differences that can cause miscommunication or friction in the interaction (for a brief insight into the worldview of a Gen. Z, read my article here: www.torontostm.com/en/2022/04/30/%e3%80%90gen-z-at-30000-feet%e3%80%91-an-introduction-to-worldview-2/). Nevertheless, we are seeking to hold to the timeless truth about the truth and the power of the gospel as our foundation for evangelism, while also recognizing the cultural context to which we are ministering.
In light of this priority, let me focus on three essential affirmations regarding Evangelism that every Christian must hold to before sharing the gospel.
- You are not in charge of anyone’s salvation.
Although all Christians are called to share the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20), we must recognize that God alone changes the heart, brings salvation, and calls us to have faith in God and repent from sin. Biblical repentance literally means “to change one’s mind” about sin, self, and God—it’s a 180-degree turn from the former life of sin towards life, forgiveness, and fellowship with God. And Scripture is clear that faith (the opening of our eyes to our sin and spiritual condition) and repentance are granted by God (2 Timothy 2:25; Ephesians 2:8). When the believer has been given this glorious gift, Philippians 2:13 says to us, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
This should take the pressure off our shoulders and encourage us! We do not save anyone, and we are not responsible for anyone’s decision to accept Christ or not: we simply plant the seeds of the gospel—by deeds and words—and may even water it, but it is God who makes it grow (1Corinthians 3:6-7).
- If we do not understand the gospel, we do not understand evangelism.
While telling of our personal experiences and encounters with Christ is crucial and helpful in presenting the beautiful life transformation that Christ brings, everything we do must center on the gospel, the good news about God becoming a man in Jesus Christ to live the perfect life that no one could ever live, and to die as the substitute for our sin’s holy judgment. Apart from this message, we have no objective reality to ground our claims about Jesus; our personal experience against theirs is all we have. In this age of relative truth, we need something more significant than, “This is what works for me”— we need “This is the only way” (John 14:6).
- Most people need to hear the gospel 7 times before accepting Christ.
There is a consensus on how many times the average person needs to hear the gospel—stats range between 3-7 or 7-18 times—which means that most conversions happen over time and through shared-life discipleship, that is, through relationship; a steady “walking alongside” one another in a relationship over an extended period. This is more encouragement: anyone’s conversion is not necessarily contained in one interaction. Now, this doesn’t necessarily let us off the hook for to call for open-air preaching but is a recognition that “bringing a friend to church” so that they’ll hear the preacher is often not enough—we frequently must commit to walking with and challenging the same person with the gospel over and over.
When sharing the gospel with your friends, children, or neighbours, I think it is vital to have the same heart that the Apostle Paul had when standing before Agrippa in Acts 26:29: “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am,…”; that in our mission of evangelism, we may truly love the lost, and desire for them to experience true shalom peace with God that we too have come to know.