Alpha Tips: Challenges to Evangelism in the 21st Century
I have been involved in the life of the church and evangelism for over 25 years. It seems like things are changing when it comes to seeing people come to Christ. What should I be aware of?
This is a great question - one that is not going away. As Christians, we grapple with how to do evangelism in a changing culture. If we were to start a conversation with a group of young adults at a coffee shop today, they would probably all agree that their peers have a growing hunger for spiritual experiences and answers. But they would probably also say that it's unlikely they would go to a church or pastor for those things.
During a recent conversation, some seasoned Alpha leaders commented about how far back we have to go in the Christian story when we talk to today's young adults. Many of them have little or no knowledge of the Christian story, not to mention a context for Bible stories in their lives. Some may have had a negative experience with Christians - which distanced them from the church even more. But the Alpha leaders also talked about the incredible power that's present when we form authentic relationships with these young adults. People - not dogma - are what matter most.
This is why the Alpha course is perfectly suited for today's generation of young adults. When run well, Alpha is a safe place for them to form friendships and see Christians live out the faith. It's also an opportunity for them to explore issues of faith and experience the love of God and forgiveness of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Do you want to explore this subject more? Here are a few summer reading suggestions:
1. UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity and Why It Matters, by David Kinnaman
2. I Once was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus, by Don Everts and Doug Schaupp
3. The Provocative Church, by Graham Tomlin