As the Fall semester begins, I begin thinking more and more about evangelism on campus, and I emphasize personal evangelism strongly with our college students. But in 2020, everything is turned on its ear, including evangelism.
This semester, guests aren’t even allowed on campus at TCU or TXWES, so the idea of roaming campus to connect with students is out. This affects all of us if we hope to follow Christ’s command to “Go... make disciples.” (Matthew 28:19) Jesus tells us to “go,” but what do we do when circumstances make that difficult? Here are a few thoughts:
1) Learn how to present the gospel clearly
A couple years ago, a student from Mongolia asked me outright, “What is the gospel?” I stumbled through a poor explanation of how sin was bad and Jesus came to help, but I was woefully unprepared for this question, despite the fact that I constantly teach college students that they should share the gospel... While there is less interaction going on, learn for yourself how you can present the gospel clearly and cogently. Look up gospel presentations on Youtube, or take a minute to Google “The 3 Circles Illustration,” “The Big Story by James Choung,” or “The World According to Jesus.” None of these provide perfect analogies, but they can help you to understand the gospel now, so that you can share it confidently when the world is up and moving again.
2) Use social media for good
Every superhero story involves someone choosing to use their powers for good, while a villain chooses to use theirs for evil. Social media may not be a superpower, but we absolutely have a choice to use it for good or not. We can use it to tout our political preferences, to share our favorite foods, and to connect with family - these aren’t bad things and that’s fine, but we can also use social media to share scripture, offer encouragement, and identify with Jesus. This can be as simple as, when someone asks, “What did you do this weekend?” including the fact that you went to (or watched) church services. We often leave that out of our answer, but it’s an easy way to identify with Jesus. In a time when so much of life is happening digitally, let’s use our digital lives for kingdom purposes.
3) Focus on one-on-one times
We often think that we need some platform to share our faith, but what if the “platform” was just coffee with a friend, co-worker, or neighbor? I know you think it’s awkward to bring up your faith, but it’s not as bad as you think, and it gets better with practice. Start by texting a friend something like, “I have been wanting to share with you some things I’ve been learning about my relationship with God. Could we get coffee or lunch so I can tell you about this?” If you don’t know them so well, or you know they are resistant to spiritual conversations, adjust your invitation accordingly - use grace, love, prayer, and a healthy dose of common sense to discern the right approach. Set up a time to meet with them, then pray like crazy about it. Then, when you are with them, share these three stories:
- Their Story - Ask them about their experience or background with spiritual things. Most people have something to share.
- Your Story - Share your personal story briefly. How is God changing you for the better? What have you been free to leave behind because of the freedom found in Jesus? Try to have a one-minute version of your testimony.
- God’s Story - Share the gospel clearly. Say, “I have an illustration that explains the big story of God and us, would you mind if I shared it with you?” Then share what you have learned from Step 1 above.
It has been said that, in evangelism, “something is better than nothing” and “the best evangelistic tactic is the one you use.” Let’s not add to the list of excuses why we aren’t sharing the gospel; instead, let’s follow Jesus with intentional obedience.