Millennials and Evangelism: Sharing When Sharing Feels “Wrong”

man leaning against wall with Bible in hand

I know what it feels like to get nervous telling others about Jesus. There are times when it feels risky to the relationship or I feel awkward or I worry that I’m going to mess it up somehow and push them even further away from Jesus.

Why? I don’t know. But I know He’s immensely valuable. I know the Holy Spirit is in control of what’s happening in their heart, and I know it’s infinitely worth the risk. Even so, it’s a battle in the moment—a battle against my own feelings.

But there’s another feeling prevalent among millennials today. According to a Barna study earlier this year, nearly half agree at least somewhat that it’s wrong to share your faith with someone in hopes that they, too, would one day share the same beliefs you do. They’ve grown up in a culture that increasingly feels that to disagree on something means to judge or be judged. (The study shows that too.)

So as leaders, what do we do?

I’m not an expert on this topic. At best, I’m “millennial adjacent” at 38 years old. (According to Barna, millennials were born 1984 to 1998.) But every Tuesday, I have a small group of young women in their 20s that meets in my home—a small sample size. But from that sample, and from what I hear from friends in similar spots, I’ll share what I’ve learned.

Show real love to dechurched millennials.

Even if they’ve strayed far from church in college and adulthood, dechurched millennials have at least some pieces of growing up with God tucked away in their minds and hearts. That doesn’t mean they know Christ necessarily, but it does mean they have at least some background of hearing about God.

What does that look like in their lives? It may mean that they have a sense that God is real, but they are choosing not to think about it. It may mean that they’ve come away from church hurt or with the impression that it doesn’t care about them. Because of that or another reason, they may have decided that Christianity isn’t true or isn’t right for them. What’s going to draw them back?

Jesus. Jesus and loving community.

Do you know young adults who grew up in your church and don’t come anymore? Show them Christianity as they’ve never seen it. Show them what real love looks like—not judgment for leaving the church. Invite them into your home and your life. Then show them what it looks like to live life in love with Jesus—a life full of peace, joy, and hospitality. Make Jesus look irresistible to them and share lovingly when you can about the difference He’s made in your life.

Once they know Jesus, encourage those millennials to share their faith.

If dechurched millennials get a glimpse of a life sold out to the love of Jesus, and they get a taste of real community around that truth, they often want it. And for those millennials, it’s fresh—“I know Jesus because someone told me He was better than the life I had.”

While millennials as a whole might struggle to talk to people about their faith, the small sample of young adults I know has one thing in common—if they’ve come back to Jesus after college because someone brought them, they’re also willing to share.

So as a leader, fall in love with Jesus. Lead others to fall in love with Jesus. And those young adults will want to pass that on.

Keep eternity in the forefront.

Then in your life and in the lives of the millennials you lead, keep heaven always bright on the horizon. Point your heart there and point theirs too. Remind them of how valuable Jesus is—and how painful and permanent the alternative is. Remind them that Jesus’ mandate to share is the thing that brought them to faith—and will rescue others too. Keeping this awareness of eternity stamped on our eyeballs, as Jonathan Edwards said, helps us all remember what we’re really living for—and why it’s worth it to risk in conversations with others.

Grace Thornton is a writer who has lived in England and the Middle East and traveled extensively into different contexts to meet people and tell the stories of what God is doing in their lives. She is the author of Unshakable Pursuit: Chasing the God Who Chases Us.


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