Evangelism and Christian Teens
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And I started stumbling over my thoughts and words.
I'm ashamed to say that I ended the moment a little abruptly, simply because I felt too much pressure from Sharing The Gospel with my coworkers—even though none of them was the least bit unkind to me. Soon their conversation drifted to other topics, and that was that. A few months later I moved on to a different job, and I never had a similar opportunity with those people again.
I regret my cowardice at that moment because, as you must know all too well, it's not easy to be a Christian in today's world. In fact, I often think that Christianity should come with some kind of warning label: "Caution! People don't like Christians—get used to it." When I was a high schooler, I remember other students mocking me as a "Jesus Freak" so much that I finally gave in and bought a T-shirt that proclaimed the same thing. In college a bookstore manager told me that even though I was well-qualified for a job in his store, he wouldn't hire me because my religion opposed pornography, and he didn't want to take a chance that I'd "preach" to his customers and stop them from buying Playboy and Penthouse magazines. In the years since, I've been singled out for verbal abuse, insult, and discriminatory treatment because of my faith.
I suspect I've gotten off easy—because I know I'm not the only one with these kinds of experiences. After all, we are called Christ's witnesses. Interestingly (and perhaps as a sort of heavenly warning label for us), the Greek term for "witness" used in New Testament writings is martys. Does that look familiar to you? It should. It's the root from which we get the word "martyr," "reminding us," says theologian John Drane, "that bearing witness can be a costly business."
What Kind of Evangelists Are in Our Youth Groups?
Knowing this about my own experience, I've wanted to see if I could get a clarifying glimpse at what kinds of "evangelist personalities" could be seen in our youth groups. So I used a survey (you can find much more in my book The Jesus Survey) to cross-correlate the data as a whole to see what kinds of groupings kids' answers typically fell into. When I was finished, the following four personalities came to the forefront.
Passionate Evangelists. These were the Christian youth who expressed a strong belief in the expectation of Christian evangelism and also claimed (either somewhat or strongly) they'd shared about their faith in Jesus in the past month. These represent about 1 out of 3 (32 percent) kids in our youth groups.
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