Evangelism in the 21st Century

Missional-Church-21One insight for churches and church leaders caused by the missional shift is how they view evangelism; not how the DO evangelism, but how they see it. Missional churches have a clearer picture of what evangelism looks like in the 21st century. Communications has changed in the past 50 years. Transportation has changed in the past 50 years. Technology has changed (!?!?!) why wouldn’t evangelism change?

God has not changed and the gospel has not changed but the handles that people use to grasp it have changed. For teens and young adults especially, they need to be reached through a ministry of word AND a ministry of deed.

A ministry of word is the proclamation of the Gospel. It is preaching, or conversation, or discussion about the gospel. Too many churches think this is where evangelism starts and ends. When post-moderns see a church practicing a ministry of word only, they interpret it as a sales pitch. They say to themselves, “these people are only interested in growing their own church.” When evangelism is practiced as a ministry of word only, your surrounding community will only see evangelism as recruitment and an effort to consolidate power.

A ministry of deed is serving the needs of your community. It is feeding the hungry, advocating for those who don’t have a voice. A ministry of deed is being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. Some churches think this is all there is to evangelism. They serve in the name of Jesus but fail to give people a reason for the hope that you have (1 Pet 3:15). Evangelism as a ministry of deed only, fails to give hope.  Jesus called this “bread that spoils” (John 6:27). Don’t get me wrong! I believe evangelism includes deeds, I might even argue, in a post-modern context, evangelism must start with deeds, but deeds are not enough.

Evangelism in the 21st century needs both: word and deed. When you do both, they interact and stimulate each other. It is hard to do both. No matter who you are there is always one you are tempted to neglect. Being a disciple maker (our primary calling according to Matt 28:19-20) involves doing both deed and word ministry.

But don’t take it from me! Tim Keller, minister to the Redeemer Presbyterian Church of Manhattan has tons of advice on how to be evangelistic in the 21st century.


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