How evangelism amplifies every detail of the Christian life
You don’t have to be a campus ministry leader long before you hear a student say, “I don’t feel like I’m growing,” or “I’m not getting fed.”
If you’re like me, there’s a good chance those words have come out of your own mouth at some point.
When I first had one of these conversations with a student—some twelve years ago—my impulse was to take it personally and defend myself.
My mind immediately raced through a list of Bible studies I had taught and opportunities I had offered, specifically designed to help this student “grow.”
“How can they say that?” was my first reaction.
Can you relate to that defensiveness?
It’s the same feeling that creeps in when a student you’ve invested in decides to leave your ministry. Maybe even without saying goodbye or offering feedback ahead of time that could’ve prevented them from leaving at all.
Since those early conversations, I’ve discovered many more productive responses than defensiveness.
I’ll touch briefly on three of them, and then focus on some wise words from Lee Strobel in his book, The Unexpected Adventure, co-authored with Mark Mittelberg.
We must seek to understand
This applies to many scenarios involving confrontation.
It’s easy for both parties to slip into accusatory roles that prevent them from fully understanding the situation.
That’s why it goes a long way to ask probing questions in a spirit of love, humility, and affirmation.
We must be faithful with what we are responsible for
As spiritual leaders, we’re prone to blur the line between responsibilities that belong to us and to others, which leads to frustration and burnout.
It’s important that we are realistic in our expectations. We must accept that not every student will assimilate into our ministry, let alone come back.
Even Jesus had many abandon him and he was perfect.
The range of motives people have for coming are as diverse as the people coming.
Many show up to appease their parent’s demands; some are looking for free pizza; some for cute guys or girls to date; and others for an expression of faith that is exactly in line with the one they grew up with.
These conversations are an opportunity for us to evaluate our faithfulness to the things we are responsible for.
So we need to listen for the underlying “ring of truth” in their critique. We must take it to heart, and improve ourselves and our ministries.
We must hold others to be faithful with what they are responsible for
Growing spiritually involves being fed by others and feeding ourselves.
So when students say, “I don’t feel like I’m being fed,” ask them about the sources of spiritual food they are and aren’t taking advantage of:
- Have you invested yourself in a church?
- Do you consistently attend our large group Bible studies on campus?
- Are you part of a discipleship group?
- Have you participated in our monthly service projects?
- Have you gone on a mission trip?
- Have you attended our retreats, conferences, and weekend activities?
- Tell me about your personal time in prayer and Bible reading.
- What have been your latest efforts to share your faith with a friend far from God?
This last question about evangelism is my transition to Lee Strobel’s excerpt.
Often times, when we think about the traditional “spiritual disciplines” what comes to mind are things like prayer, fasting, scripture reading, memorization, worship, and fellowship. But what about serving, tithing, and witnessing?
It’s true that others are meant to gain by the service we offer, money we give, and gospel we share; but it’s equally true that we are meant to gain by doing these things as well.
The Unexpected Adventure, by Lee Strobel (page 10-11)
I stumbled upon the unexpected adventure of talking with others about Jesus, and I quickly learned that living on this evangelistic edge amplifies every detail of the Christian life:
- It’s where our Bible study becomes much more intense, because we’re not merely reading Scripture as a devotional or academic exercise, but we’re searching for fresh insights and wisdom to use in reaching our spiritually confused neighbors.
- Our prayer life becomes ever more focused, because we’re pleading for God’s help and guidance in bringing the gospel to family members who don’t know Christ.
- Our worship becomes increasingly heartfelt, because we’re praising the God of the second chance, who in his astonishing grace loves our wandering friends even more than we do.
- Our dependence on God reaches new heights, because we know that apart from the Holy Spirit there’s no way we can bring anyone to the point of putting their trust in Jesus.
This is the missing ingredient in so many Christian lives. I’ve never heard anyone complain by saying, “My spiritual life is so dry right now; it’s like I’m living in a desert,” and then add, “Also, I’m actively trying to reach a friend for Christ.”
As I’ve traveled the world, I’ve repeatedly found that it’s the Christians living out the unexpected adventure who are enjoying the most fulfilling relationship with God.
For them, a day might start out average and routine, but it always has the potential to blossom into a life-changing and eternity-altering encounter.