The Gospel message is timeless (Hebrews 13:8). We don’t need to add or subtract its eternal truth. However, as co-laborers with God in the work of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21), we can be prudent on how we present the message. No matter your age or season, each day is an opportunity to share the Gospel. Let’s examine how we may best tailor our Gospel presentation across the spectrum of generations.
First, before we explore specific strategies for each generation, let’s look at a few general “best practices.”
1. Respond to the person in front of you.
We must remember that statistics, research, and data help us understand people, but they don’t apply to everyone. Assuming that all people align with a generation’s consensus could lead to awkward conversations at best, or, in the worst-case scenario, complete rejection. Jesus never deterred from the Gospel message, but He tailored His approach to each individual. To the woman at the well, He listened while affirming her need for living water. To a woman accused of adultery, he saved her physically but reminded her of her need for eternal salvation (John 8:11). To the blind, Jesus gave the gift of sight, along with the ability to see Jesus as Lord ( John 9: 1-11). Listen before jumping into the Gospel message and ask the Holy Spirit to give you the words you need in that exact moment.
2. Don’t assume everyone has heard of Jesus.
Living in the Bible belt for over thirty years, it is easy to assume that most people go to church or know about God and the Bible. That was a pretty safe bet in generations past, but not as much today. We must be careful not to bring our past experiences or assumptions when presenting the Gospel. Be mindful of using words that may confuse someone who is unfamiliar with common church lingo. Also, resist the urge to pressure people into believing the Gospel immediately. Instead, allow the Holy Spirit to work. Start simple, listen well, and adjust verbiage or theological terms based on their current spiritual understanding.
3. Invest in Relationships
A prominent pastor and Christian apologist, John MacArthur, said, “Most people do not come to Christ as an immediate response to a sermon they hear in a crowded setting. They come to Christ because of the influence of an individual.” There are instances when we immediately see the results of our Gospel presentation because nothing is impossible for God. However, it is more common that unbelievers will come to know Christ after many conversations and lots of prayers. With God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). But, more than likely, the conversion will result from weeks, months, years of Gospel conversations, and plenty of (our) prayers. Remember, we are responsible for telling others about Christ, but we aren’t responsible for how they respond. That part is between God and the person, so don’t get discouraged if they don’t respond the way you hoped. Instead, invest in the relationship and trust God to do the rest.
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