“It’s not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty. -Zechariah 4:6
As Christians, we want nothing more than for those we know to understand our faith and embrace a relationship with Jesus. Unfortunately, this can lead us to focus our evangelism efforts on information transfer or doctrinal explanation. We want people to know what we know and believe what we believe. But is there more to it than that? Ultimately, we long for people to not just understand the gospel, but to experience the presence and relationship of the risen Jesus. This can and should have a profound impact on how we approach evangelism.
In Reviving Evangelism, a recent study released by Alpha USA and Barna Group, we saw that 32% of lapsed-Christians and 29% of atheists, agonistics or nones would be“more interested in learning about Christianity” if they had an “eye-opening spiritual experience themselves.”
Is one key to modern evangelism bringing the sacred back into the process? Could it be to invite people to seek more than just an explanation about faith but an experience of God Himself as part of the exploration journey. What if we invited people to pray, and trusted God to show up – even before they have their beliefs all sorted out?
We’ve seen it time and again–Alpha participants who have built cement walls around their minds and hearts who, after an invitation to pray and even though they don’t have it all figured out, ask God very simply “God if you are real, will you show up for me now?” Then, falling to their knees, weeping in prayer, as they are flooded with love or peace and elimination of anxiety. We can’t explain it. God’s power is just that strong.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yetno one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
Moving from explanation alone to one of inviting people into the experience of God is vital – He’s already laid the groundwork for His presence to be active in their lives as Ecclesiastes 3:11 points out. We can’t force people what to believe. But we can give them the opportunity to experience His presence, grace, and transformative power – which in turn informs their beliefs, often to the point of trusting in the divinity of Christ and his substitutionary atonement on their behalf.
Learn more about Reviving Evangelism, and watch Alpha USA Executive Director Craig Springer’s talk at The Alpha Conference 2019.