Let’s be honest, even though this column is about evangelism, many of the people we care about are not atheists. They are bored, apathetic, unengaged and oblivious young people who grew up in church. Many would call themselves Christians, but they lack spiritual passion and have wrong priorities. They pursue entertainment, relationships and adventure, but ignore all things eternal…and this worries us.
If you are like me, when we began to discuss lethargic people a name or a face pops into your head. Maybe your kids, grandkids, a niece, a nephew, or a neighbor.
Someone you care about deeply that you desperately want to find a spiritual foundation that will help them in every area of life. You think of conversations you have had, or conversations you haven’t yet figured out how to have.
Choices that have been made and a shallowness that surrounds the way they live. You long for them to discover the joy and purpose you have found in your relationship with Jesus, but you don’t know how to help them do that.
Let’s take a few moments to talk about four practical tips:
- Pray Ephesians 3:17 over them. In Ephesians 3:14-21, Paul prays over the people he is leading. The entire passage is worth reading and praying, but verse 17 stands out to me. “That you, being rooted and established in love.” When praying for my six kids, this is my favorite passage because I know that if they are “rooted and established in love” they will stay moving in the right direction and they will be impossible to manipulate. Being aware of God’s love isn’t enough. His love has to be their foundation and it has to impact their identity.
A young man wields the word “love” as a manipulative tool and young girls fall into temptation, but if she is “rooted and established in love” – God’s love — she wants to please Him, not him, and kicks the guy to the curb. A group is passing around substances. People who are not “rooted and established” succumb to the peer pressure because they don’t want to be the misfit, but those who know who they are in Christ Jesus don’t compromise convictions.
Here is how I incorporate it into my prayer time for my kids. “Father God, would you pursue my son? May He be rooted and established in your love. May he be so convinced that you are with him and for him that he would respond to your nudges, cherish your whispers and desire to please you always.”
- Let them catch you loving Jesus naturally. So many conversations with young people feel forced. They feel pre-meditated, judgmental and sometimes even unfurl like attacks. One of the greatest tools you have in communicating with the apathetic Christian is your personal passion for Jesus.
- Don’t talk at people, trying to convince them that they need to love God; instead, share your gratitude. Don’t say “I am worried about you because you seem to be ignoring what God has done for you.” Share, “This morning as I was spending time with the Lord, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for all He has done for me.” This lowers defenses and draws people in because your experience is attractive and it causes them to want what you have because it is good, not because you said they should. None of us is perfect, so don’t try to be, but give them a glimpse of your priorities, your love for Jesus, and how you are submitting your imperfections to Him and inviting Him to change you. When they see you loving Jesus, it gives your words more weight and makes them think.
- Ask Questions. Young people are turned off by a monologue where they feel they are being talked at, but they are very open to a dialogue where they feel they are being talked with. So, don’t spend all of your time telling them what you know; ask them questions so you can begin to understand what they think.
“What is one thing you would like God to do for you?”
“If you had to choose one word to describe your spiritual life, what would you choose?”
“Do you ever talk to God? About what?”
If you ask questions, you will discover that they think about God more than you think. You will realize that they have questions you can help answer, and you will uncover their self-doubt, broken theology and pain points that can be addressed.
I am an evangelist and I love sharing Jesus with those who are lost and unaware of God’s love. However some of the people closest to me need a dose of Jesus and spiritual passion as well, and I can’t ignore them. I am praying that God would use me to move them in the right direction.
It starts with me. If I am not passionately in love with Jesus and pursuing Him, my words will fall short. If I am then He can use me to fan the flame of their fire.
Sean Dunn is founder and president of Groundwire, a global ministry with the mission to lead every youth and young adult into a personal relationship with Jesus by leveraging current media channels to connect with them wherever they are. More than 116,000 made commitments to Christ through the organizations efforts in 2020. For more information, visit www.groundwire.net.