“…it has been shown by survey after survey that the majority of people come to faith today over a period of time. It is not so much a crisis as a process. ”
“…it is abundantly plain that the vast majority of people who come to faith are more influenced by friends or family members than by any other single factor. Church, the Bible, preaching and visitation are low on the list of attractors: by far the highest is the friendship of a committed, warm, unembarrassed Christian.”
“most people are brought to faith through the loving persistence and friendship of someone close to them.”
“Personal evangelism is the best sort of evangelism. I recall Billy Graham saying just that years ago. … [BG quote] ‘Mass evangelism is not the best way of evangelism, but it seems to be the way that God has entrusted to me, and I must be faithful to it. The best way of evangelism is when there are two people talking together and one leads the other to Christ.'”
MG discusses 3 myths about secular culture:
1. Secular ppl are not as irreligious as you might think.
2. “They are not immoral but are persuaded that one does not need God in order to live a moral life.”
3. “It would be a mistake to be afraid of their sneers as if they had read the Bible and Christian literature from Augustine to Luther.”
“It is well to remember that most people even in universities, students and lecturers alike are profoundly ignorant of Christian teaching.”
MG describes some ways in which secular people are not understood:
~ Secs are not preoccupied w/ life after death… they are more concerned with living this life well. So MG talks about how conversations with Secs may have as a better starting point, John 10:10, (where Jesus talks about having abundant life), than say something related to death.
~ Secs struggle more with doubt than with sin and guilt.
~ Secs also struggle with alienation.
~ Secs, surprisingly struggle with low self-esteem in spite of being successful.
~ Hopelessness and meaninglessness also plague them.
“Many churches have never looked at the demographics of their area, so they do not know what the needs are. Consequently they cannot gauge their activities toward trying to meet those needs.”
“When churches are vibrating with life, they do not have a lot of midweek activities. Members are expected to use their leisure time to make friends and build relationships… But when churches have lost that zeal, all manner of midweek activities emerge.”
“But opportunities will surely come if we are ready to take them.”
MG talks about bridge building, that is relationship building.
“… pause to think of the people whose lives intersect with yours. The mail carrier, the cashier, the server, the neighbors down the street … An opportunity may well open up for you to say something to them. And it can happen in the most unexpected way. At the school gate. In the laundromat…”
After giving an interesting story about a friend of his that shared the faith in a surprising way, MG states
“You never know what opportunities may come your way if you are willing for the Lord to use you as His ambassador. That makes each day an adventure!”
How the times have changed . . . MG describes how the mindset of people (in the West) has changed over the years.
(1) In the 1950s, truth was deemed to be knowable and thus intellectual questions regarding faith matters could be raised, discussed and answered. So for example, if questions regarding Jesus’ resurrection or His deity were adequately answered, then it would not have been unusual to see a commitment follow.
(2) As time went on, relevancy became more important. That is suppose you picked up some apologetical text and made some sort of argument for the historicity of the resurrection, the response of someone could be “So? So what does that have to do with me.” A person could accept that Jesus was God in the flesh, but still not accept Him as Lord and Savior because they in their minds, this fact made no difference in how they lived their lives.
(3) Today, the above are true to some degree, but feelings have become more the greater concern of people. “How will believing in Jesus make me feel?” “How did you feel when you accepted Christ?”
~ The questions basically have shifted from “Is it true?” to “Does it work?” to “Does it feel good?”
MG in so many words says that the issue of feelings should not be ignored when we share the Gospel. One reason why is because if a person feels good about the Gospel that we present to them, then they will want to know if it works and if it is true.
~ I think that a good way to bring about feelings is when we share our testimony. We could talk of how we felt when we accepted Jesus…
MG then points out to some examples of the kind of things that are proving to be very successful: “Thomas Mass” in Finland, New Wine and Soul Survior in England, Alpha in various places, retreats in monasteries. etc. All of these make room for both feelings and the intellect.