Now is the time for believers everywhere to get the Gospel out instead of leaving it for those "called" to ministry or missions. Jesus' last words to go and tell HIS story were meant for ALL in Christ, so what are you waiting for?
The Gospel message is timeless (Hebrews 13:8). We don't need to add or subtract its eternal truth. However, as co-laborers with God in the work of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21), we can be prudent on how we present the message. No matter your age or season, each day is an opportunity to share the Gospel. Let's examine how we may best tailor our Gospel presentation across the spectrum of generations.
First, before we explore specific strategies for each generation, let's look at a few general "best practices."
1. Respond to the person in front of you.
We must remember that statistics, research, and data help us understand people, but they don't apply to everyone. Assuming that all people align with a generation's consensus could lead to awkward conversations at best, or, in the worst-case scenario, complete rejection. Jesus never deterred from the Gospel message, but He tailored His approach to each individual. To the woman at the well, He listened while affirming her need for living water. To a woman accused of adultery, he saved her physically but reminded her of her need for eternal salvation (John 8:11). To the blind, Jesus gave the gift of sight, along with the ability to see Jesus as Lord ( John 9: 1-11). Listen before jumping into the Gospel message and ask the Holy Spirit to give you the words you need in that exact moment.
2. Don't assume everyone has heard of Jesus.
Living in the Bible belt for over thirty years, it is easy to assume that most people go to church or know about God and the Bible. That was a pretty safe bet in generations past, but not as much today. We must be careful not to bring our past experiences or assumptions when presenting the Gospel. Be mindful of using words that may confuse someone who is unfamiliar with common church lingo. Also, resist the urge to pressure people into believing the Gospel immediately. Instead, allow the Holy Spirit to work. Start simple, listen well, and adjust verbiage or theological terms based on their current spiritual understanding.
3. Invest in Relationships
A prominent pastor and Christian apologist, John MacArthur, said, "Most people do not come to Christ as an immediate response to a sermon they hear in a crowded setting. They come to Christ because of the influence of an individual." There are instances when we immediately see the results of our Gospel presentation because nothing is impossible for God. However, it is more common that unbelievers will come to know Christ after many conversations and lots of prayers. With God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). But, more than likely, the conversion will result from weeks, months, years of Gospel conversations, and plenty of (our) prayers. Remember, we are responsible for telling others about Christ, but we aren't responsible for how they respond. That part is between God and the person, so don't get discouraged if they don't respond the way you hoped. Instead, invest in the relationship and trust God to do the rest.
Traditionalist or Elder Generation (- 1945)
Recently, an older woman shared with me, "I just want to feel that we still have a purpose." Her heart's desire is not unique among a generation where health is failing and independence is lessening. Yet, they are still with us. God still has a purpose for all of our days, in every season (Job 14:5).
This generation has the gift of experience. When we think of sharing the Gospel, we typically think of an unbeliever. Some fall away from their faith, are discouraged by life's circumstances, and need to be reminded of the truth of the Gospel. The Good News is not just for salvation but an eternal hope for our everyday lives. Look for believers you can mentor, send a card, give a call, or ask to come over for coffee. Share your wisdom and lessons learned from times of obedience and rebellion; doing so will both serve to share God's faithfulness, mercy, and grace.
Baby Boomers (1946 - 1964)
This generation is moving towards retirement, where changing out of PJs is optional, naps are encouraged, and long walks are essential. After years of not having any time, cleared calendars galore, the temptation arises to coast when it comes to sharing the Gospel. Resist the urge to hang up your service hat. The younger (and older) generations need you. Mentor a youth, volunteer at a mission, or help a single mom with her yard work. With your flexible schedule, you can put your faith into action (James 2:26). Jesus understood the importance of satisfying people's pressing needs (spiritually and physically [Matthew 14:16]). Your willingness to meet a physical demand might open the door to introduce someone to their eternal need, Jesus.
Generation X (1965 - 1976)
Generation X has the perfect opportunity to share the Gospel through hospitality. Because they are not quite retirement-ready, they can easily invest in building relationships by opening their homes and sharing meals. It doesn't have to be a fine dining experience. It can be grabbing a pizza and sitting on the couch and being willing to share your life with others. In a world where time is a precious commodity and personal connections are scarce, express your love for God by loving others. Open homes provide excellent opportunities to open hearts and share the Good News.
Millennials (1977 - 1995)
Many millennials are in the throws of parenthood. Soccer games, ballet recitals, and piles of homework are coupled with career advancements and life's demands. This generation is exhausted. If you are a millennial, taking extra time to share the Gospel can seem to rank low compared to the piled-on demands. The good news is your routine already has Gospel opportunities built in. Sitting on the sidelines, ask that mom what is weighing on her heart. Notice a co-worker having a tough time; share how you stay hopeful when life is hard. Remember, the greatest opportunity is with your children. Deuteronomy 11:19 tells us to teach God's laws to our children, to talk about them as we go about our lives. We can use the time in the car after school and between practices to share God's forgiveness on the way to school, model Jesus' heart for the outcast, express joy in hard circumstances. For many children, their parent's faith is their first introduction to the Gospel. What impression are you making?
Gen Z (1996 - 2015)
Gen Z has a plethora of avenues to share their faith. While social media is a great resource to post Bible verses, words of encouragement, and share the Gospel, don't forget about sitting down with friends and telling them the Good News. People relate to personal stories; that's why Paul often shared his story of conversion (Acts 9:1-19). Sharing how accepting Christ changed your life is a great way to introduce the Gospel message. And remember, just because you are young doesn't mean you can't be a godly example for your parents, grandparents, or other adults (1 Timothy 4:12).]
Now is the time for believers everywhere to get the Gospel out instead of leaving it for those "called" into ministry or missions. Jesus' last words to go and tell HIS story were meant for ALL in Christ, so what are you waiting for?
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Malcolm Lightbody