Some years ago, as we prepared to take part in a long-term mission assignment, my wife and I were required by the agency that was sending us to take part in a three-day evangelism training process. That evangelism process required us to memorize a fairly lengthy script that included spiritual questions people might ask, along with Bible verses to answer those questions. The process was very structured and worked well in the role plays we were required to do as a part of the training, but when we tried to use the method outside the training environment, it was not nearly as eﬀective. In real life, the people we witnessed to did not ask many of the questions from the script. They also did not respond in the right way to the Bible verses we had memorized. I do not recall anyone ever making a solid commitment to Christ when my wife and I attempted to use that particular evangelism technique.
Since then I have learned a variety of other evangelism techniques. Though none were ever quite as much of a failure as that ﬁrst method, none were ever as eﬀective in real life as they seemed to be during the training process. I have come to believe that the problem with these various evangelism methods is that they all view evangelism as an event in which end in people saying what is often referred to as the sinner’s prayer. But if the people praying such prayers have no idea what kind of commitment they are actually making and do not have any desire to repent of their sins or live lives of service and devotion to God, then what value do such prayers have?
In our postmodern culture, people are on a spiritual journey; they are searching for truth. As a result, they view the search for truth as a process instead of an event. Because of that, they rarely respond positively to being asked to say a sinner’s prayer after hearing a religious sales pitch from a well-intentioned Christian. While postmodern people may eventually say such a prayer, it will most likely occur after lengthy and thoughtful contemplation. If churches want to be eﬀective in sharing the gospel with the next generation, they will view evangelism as a process instead of an event.
Adapted from Dr. Dorsett’s book, Mission Possible: Reaching the Next Generation through the Small Church, published by CrossBooks, a division of Lifeway Christian Resources.