Each generation has had their “tool” for evangelism that worked. In the late eighteenth and early twentieth century, the circuit rider preachers were effective, and revivals were common. In the ’60s and ’70s, during the “Jesus Freak” movement, street evangelism worked. People responded. That was something that really reached people.
However, what is going to be the effective tool for our generation?
(Of course, these are generalizations, because not everyone is like this…just my observations)
* People don’t like to be bothered…they don’t like things to take up their time.
* People don’t talk to other people while walking down the street, and if someone talks to them, it is generally not well-received.
* People don’t mind if you are religious, as long as you don’t talk to them about it.
* There are so many misconceptions of religion, so many stereotypes…hard to defeat them all.
* Society is so individualized; yet, everyone longs to “belong” to something of their choosing.
It goes without saying that society today is a much different place than it was in the ’60s and ’70s…it’s even different than it was in the ’90s. Things are constantly changing in our world, and people are no exception.
Some of my own observations from my two summers as a missionary:
* Backyard Bible Clubs are no longer an effective way to reach children. With technology these days, going back to arts and crafts, Bible stories, and outdoor games are just not things that children are interested in. It was a great day if we had 5 kids at our BYBCs. Also, parents are less apt to allow their children to be somewhere with people they don’t know, because of the crimes that have happened in recent years with children.
* Many people don’t like to be bothered at home. My church always liked to do “visitation”, where one night a week they would go and visit the people who had attended the service the previous Sunday. I had to do “follow-up” visits after Vacation Bible School and BYBCs both summers, and it was–with one exception–unsuccessful.
* People don’t like to be “preached at”…they are less likely to accept the message you are bringing if you have no current relationship with them.
I have found that relationships are key. I’m not saying that I think you should go build relationships JUST so that you can tell them about Jesus…if that is your only motivation, to “win another soul”, then I don’t think I agree with that. But, people are more likely to go to church with a friend, someone they trust, than they are to go with someone who was doing door-to-door evangelism and handed them a tract.
So, what can we do to “reach” out to the world around us? We have to invent new ways…ways that we can reach them where they are. Perhaps we need to look at Christ’s example (heaven forbid, LOL) at how He touched lives…at how He ministered…
What is a “post-modern” church going to look like?