The simple truth of the gospel does not change—Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died as a sacrifice so that we might, by faith, be put in right relationship with God. Though this truth is timeless, we must always evaluate the presentation of that truth to make sure it’s connecting in a culturally relevant way. Here are a few principles we’ve found to be helpful in the discussion of how you evangelize young adults:
Evangelize in the context of relationships. Young adults have seen countless Christian leaders fall due to moral indiscretion and observed churches that seem more concerned about adding members than changing the world. And they’re jaded and cynical because of it. In that environment, methods of evangelism (The Roman Road, Four Spiritual Laws, etc.) that once were effective are often met with distrust. These methods are only useful in evangelizing young adults after establishing a relationship. Instead of entering the relationship to convince, go in with a loving and listening attitude. Be a true friend, and you will have the opportunity to share Christ.
Evangelize in the context of discipleship. One of the most fascinating things we found in our research is that young adults, both inside and outside of the church, are interested in studying the Bible. If you are committed in your ministry to studying the Bible in a deep, engaging, and transformative way, you might look around and see that evangelism is happening. By committing your ministry to discipleship, you will be demonstrating to all young adults—Christian and non-Christian—that the gospel is all encompassing.
Evangelize in the context of responsibility. The old model of ministry held the belief that you began to serve others once you reached a certain level of maturity. But many churches are finding that the most effective way to reach unchurched young adults is to give them an opportunity to serve alongside Christians. Because young adults, in and out of the church, are vitally concerned about changing the world, why not give them all the opportunity to do so? Invite lost friends to help at the Habitat build. Or clean up a river. Or wash cars in the community. Many people are falling in love with Jesus with a paintbrush in their hand.
The best advice, though, is simply to pursue an atmosphere of authentic love in your ministry. Don’t treat young adults like projects; embrace them as friends and watch the gospel in action.
This article originally appeared in Context: Engaging the Young Adults of Your Community.