Derek Rishmawy and Cameron Cole discuss whether or not evangelism will change as America becomes post-Christian. They address:
- Growing trends (0:35)
- Careful, intentional use of our Christian language (1:42)
- The confusion of Christian jargon (2:35)
- Long-term relationships that allow time for clarity (3:30)
- The failures of secularism and the need for Jesus (5:10)
Find more from TGC on this topic:
Evangelizing People in a Post-Christian Society
How Evangelism Works in a Post-Christian Culture
TGC Q&A’s biblical counseling series starts next Wednesday, June 3. We’ve partnered with biblical counselors to bring you encouragement, practical tools, and hopeful answers to your questions on navigating fear, anxiety, marriage, ministry, and everything in between. We hope these episodes will minister to your heart and remind you of God’s grace and compassion—especially during this global pandemic. Tune in next week for the first episode with Ed Welch as he answers questions about fear.
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Derek Rishmawy: So people have talked about this before and it’s been in the air, but the idea that America is more and more a truly post-Christian country. We’ve talked about the rise of the nones in the past, the religiously unaffiliated. The percentage is something like 25 or whatever percent. When it drops down to the Millennials, it’s 30%. And now with Generation Z and younger, they’re even more truly post-Christian, no church background for large swaths of them. And so there’s no framework, there’s no easy connect the dots between God, man, sin, Christ, etc. And we’re just kind of deeper down that rabbit hole. The question then is when it comes to the evangelism imperative, which is there, and we’re trying to inculcate that in our students and really have to be aggressive about it if there’s going to be growth in the church, how does that change in our post-Christian context for that group, or does it, bit of both?
Cameron Cole: Yeah, you’re right. It’s a bit of a… I think one, we have to be very cognizant of the language that we use. I think a lot of times Christians, we are guilty of using a lot of insider jargon and a lot of terminology that we just assume that everybody knows. And as you said before, you’re using terms like God, Christian, faith, repent, believe. These are terms that may mean something totally different to the hearer than the person who’s actually delivering them. And so I think one thing we have to be really careful about and intentional about is making sure that we use language that is faithful to the truth, but not use jargon that basically gets in the way of clarity and what people actually [crosstalk 00:02:00].
Cameron Cole: I think an example of this, I read a politician talking about spiritual beliefs, and he said that he was a Christian, and he said that he had gone down front and he had been born again. And then he went on to talk about God. And it was very clear that this guy is a Universalist who practices Universalism within the Christian context. He believes that all roads to God are basically the same. And so the thing is is like he believes that he put his faith in the God of Christianity, but in reality, the God that he put his faith in, it’s not the God of the Bible. And so I think we can be really… We have to explain our terms and we have to be very hesitant to use jargon, because we want to make sure that we’re leading people to the triune God of grace that is attested to in the Bible.
Derek Rishmawy: And I think connected to that, that’s all huge, especially the non-assuming, I think what is also connected to that, and that will require, is the sort of longterm relationships in which you have the space to have slow conversations, unpacking what you mean, that kind of longterm exegesis and apologetics has to be done. It can’t be done in a revival night, a simple revival night as easily anymore. Maybe somebody will get saved that way, the Holy Spirit is that way in some contexts. But the patience of having, building those longterm relationships, openly, consistently talking about the gospel where you have opportunity, but also just recognizing that it will actually just take time to explain because it’s a weird gospel. It’s a weird faith. And I think we underestimate how much people use an assumed familiarity, which has actually gone, to think, “Okay, well, we’ve had that conversation with this person.” You think you did, but they might’ve heard something very different from what you were presenting. You were presenting the gospel, and they heard a mix of, like you said, buzzwords and whatever. The only way you’re going to be able to have that made clear as well, okay, but this is in the context of a two, three, four, however many year relationship where we can have this again and again.
Cameron Cole: I think it’s also important to realize, and this is an encouragement in terms of evangelism, that secularism is failing people. It’s just not working very well. So I work with young people, and 68% of late adolescents say that they have an overwhelming sense of anxiety in their life, 68%. That is unbelievable. That’s pandemic. And so with that being said, I think that we need to remember that for a lot of these heart needs, a need for peace, a need for joy, a need for meaning, we have a corner on that market with the gospel. And so I think when we share the gospel, I think it’s important for us to show people that the peace that they’re looking for, that they’re not finding, they’re not finding in the world, they’re not finding out of their present worldview, they can find in Jesus. And I think so often the mentality is an a post-Christian world we need to win the intellectual battle first. We need to operate at a level of intellectual apologetics. And certainly that’s a part of it. And we should really not neglect the heart level. We should not forget to have heart level apologetics, emotional apologetics, if you will, to show how it is that Jesus is the thing that really does satisfy our heart.
Derek Rishmawy: It always has been. And that is something that I do not think has changed or will ever. That is the news.
Cameron Cole: Amen.