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Sharing one’s faith—evangelizing—is a core practice among many religions. For Christians, it’s viewed as a mandate from Jesus himself before he departed earth; he commanded his disciples to “spread the good news.”
New research from Barna Group tried to answer the question: Is it wrong to evangelize today? There are a number of factors that influence evangelizing, such as the decline of religion in America. The results offer some disappointing news regarding the 20-somethings and 30-somethings now on deck to carry on the faith: nearly half (47%) of practicing Christian millennials — churchgoers who consider religion an important part of their lives — believe that evangelism is wrong.
Christianity Today tries to explain what’s behind their beliefs that evangelism is “wrong.”
Barna president David Kinnaman points to the rising cultural expectation against judging personal choices. Practicing Christian millennials were twice as likely as Gen X and four times as likely as Boomers and Elders to agree with the statement, “If someone disagrees with you, it means they’re judging you.”
“Cultivating deep, steady, resilient Christian conviction is difficult in a world of ‘you do you’ and ‘don’t criticize anyone’s life choices’ and emotivism, the feelings-first priority that our culture makes a way of life,” Kinnaman said. “As much as ever, evangelism isn’t just about saving the unsaved, but reminding ourselves that this stuff matters, that the Bible is trustworthy, and that Jesus changes everything.”
Younger folks are tempted to believe instead, “if we just live good enough lives, we can forgo the conversation entirely, and people around us will almost magically come to know Jesus through our good actions and selfless character,” she said. “This style of evangelism is becoming more and more prevalent in a culture constantly looking for the fast track and simple fix.”
There is maybe another reason why people don’t want to hear about Christianity. As Patheos Friendly Atheist reports, it’s too easy to dismiss evangelists by just pointing out the hypocrisy and bigotry of prominent Christians. If the most well-known Christians practiced what they preached — in a way that lifted marginalized people instead of contributing to their suffering — the results could very well speak for themselves.