Authenticity: The Missing Ingredient in Evangelism Today
Over the past 10 years, our culture has seen some drastic changes. In that same time, the way we relate to one another has changed as well. We communicate across more digital platforms than ever before, we have shorter attention spans, we are slower to trust, and here is the big one – we are longing for authentic connection. In fact, Cigna research from 2020 highlights how loneliness is saturating every generation because of the lack of authentic relationships.
This is where evangelism comes in.
How we communicate the good news of Jesus Christ can sometimes be as important as the news itself. For example, I doubt there are many who would say shaking a tract in someone’s face is as recommended as gently taking someone aside to share the Good News with compassion. The how can be important. And in today’s culture, the how people are looking for is an authentic sharing of one’s faith in Christ. So, what does authentic evangelism look like? Three things stand out.
Sharing your faith with sincerity
You’ve probably heard this, but it’s worth reading again: People are not projects, and evangelism is more than just a transfer of information. People are made in the image of God and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with them should be motivated by a sincere desire to see others move from the kingdom of darkness to that of light. Amazing things happen when we do this.
When we have this sincerity, people can sense it from a mile away. They feel like you have deep concern them (because you do); they feel like you’re hanging on their every word (because you are); they feel seen in a culture where people are trained to keep their heads down and ignore everyone.
Re-read that paragraph and give it some thought. Do you think people feel like this when you engage with them?
Sharing your faith with transparency
When we communicate the gospel, we are not just sharing “a cure” or “a solution” to someone’s sin problem. We are telling them of the One who transformed us. People today are yearning for transparency in a world where trust is in short supply. We shouldn’t be “telling them about Jesus” as if He was someone we know about. We need to be sharing about the Jesus we personally know. They need to hear what He accomplished for you.
This kind of transparency could involve several things. It could mean being open about a past riddled with sin. It could mean making sure they know you’re not “holier than thou” and don’t have all the answers. It could mean helping them understand that Jesus doesn’t give us perfect lives (and provide some examples of how you know that’s true). The big takeaway here is that you want to come across as on level ground – a co-sinner who is very much in need of Christ every day.
Just as someone should sense the sincerity of your message, they should be able to see the love for our Savior radiating from you. When we share Jesus as the One who, by His grace alone, grasped us from an eternity in Hell, we are including something desperately needed today. When they see that transparency and that openness, it changes your message from a solution you have to a Savior that you know. That’s a big difference.
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Sharing your faith with compassion
In today’s cancel culture mentality of judge first, ask questions later, the element of compassion in sharing your faith is more important than ever.
Many among the 5,000+ that Jesus was about to feed in Matthew 9:36 were following Him just because of His miracles (which is revealed in John 6:26). But what did Jesus do? He had compassion on them because they were sheep without a Shepherd. This opened opportunities to share some very deep and essential truths revealed later in John 6.
We have that same opportunity to show compassion when we come across people with wildly different worldviews and beliefs than we hold. Instead of judgmentally viewing them through whatever label we’ve attached to them, we can choose to be compassionate instead. Regardless of their beliefs or views, we can choose to view them as sheep without a Shepherd. In essence, we can see past the label we’re tempted to use and instead see a person created in the image of God, who is lacking a relationship with the Good Shepherd – the Savior of his or her soul. That is a stark change from what people are encountering daily in our culture. They’re judged, labeled, and cancelled around every corner. We can be an incredible difference maker when we approach them with compassion.
These three aspects of authenticity (sincerity, transparency, and compassion) are essentials for evangelism in today’s culture. People are yearning for genuine connection in a culture is mistrust and confusion. Take time to think through these things and I think you will be well on your way to providing just that.
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