Building relationships with young nonbelievers is an important part of evangelism because young people are often under the false impression that Christians live perfect lives. When young people build relationships with Christians, they discover that Christians have struggles too. When they realize that faith in Christ helps Christians to deal with those struggles, they become interested in learning more about Christ. When churches help their members engage in personal evangelism through sharing their own diﬃculties in life and how their faith gives them hope, it impacts the next generation deeply.
Faith Community Church in Barre, Vermont, has excelled in reaching young people. One of the methods Faith Community Church has used is to have Christians share stories of their own struggles in life. The church has utilized interviews with young adults who grew up in diﬃcult situations but found hope through Christ. Many of those interviews have been put on the local television station and some have been recorded on DVDs and distributed to other young people. Some have even been posted on YouTube. As young people see the power of the Christian faith to change people’s lives, they become more interested in having that same kind of faith for themselves.
Two words of caution are in order. First, when sharing our stories, we must be careful not to glorify the sin but instead to exalt the Savior. Second, we must also be careful not to fall into the “I versus you” syndrome. In the “I versus you” syndrome we make it sound like we are always right and the other person is always wrong. I will write more about that in my next post, but for the moment, just understand that such an approach seldom works with young people.
We need to share our faith with others. We must take time to build healthy relationships with them first. Part of that requires us to be transparent about our problems as well as our victories. When sharing our story, we must always glorify the Savior, not our past sin, and we must not make the person we are talking to feel judged.
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.