By Mark Vowels, CGO Director
Note: This will be the last post before Christmas Break. We will return to the blog on January 13th. Merry Christmas!
I am a baby boomer - fifty-five years old and typical of my generation. The experiences and influences that have shaped me are not the same as those which have shaped millennials.
But I love millennials, have fathered two of them, and spend my days ministering to and among them through the Center for Global Opportunities at Bob Jones University. Additionally, I have researched, written and conferenced regarding how leaders of my generation can better connect with millennials for the sake of global missionary endeavor.
Just now, I finished reading another blog post by a millennial blogger about everything that is wrong with the boomer led church. It offered twelve problems and twelve solutions to those problems. For the most part, I agreed with all of them. Yes, the boomer-led church lacks authenticity and focuses far too much on serving itself rather than serving those in need. Yes, the boomer-led church seems to navel gaze about minor doctrinal differences while ignoring the masses of spiritually destitute humanity around the globe.
It’s not the diagnosis which disturbs me - it’s the prescription, which comes down to “the church should change to be more like us and do more to serve us.” Okay, maybe it wasn’t quite that narcissistic, but it was on that pathway.
In one of the courses that I have taught for several years at BJU, I assign students to go out, find an unsaved person and tell him or her about Jesus. Students are directed to ask opening questions like, “What do you believe to be true about God?” or “Are you a religious person?” or “Can you tell me about your spiritual journey?” with the expectation that after listening to whatever response is given that person will allow the student to share his or her own spiritual understanding, i.e. testimony of faith in Christ. It’s a pretty simple assignment, and points are given for completion, not for outcomes.
What does that have to do with the millennial’s blog about the problems of the church that I referenced a minute ago? Well, college age people are pretty good at pointing out the flaws in my generation’s practice of Christianity. And in the process they often indicate their sense of passion and enthusiasm for the simplicity of the gospel and their longing for a return to authentically simple gospel living.
So what could be simpler than just telling a non-Christian what it means to you to follow Jesus?
But among the hundreds of students who have completed my assignment, the overwhelming majority confess that this was the first time they have ever shared their faith with an unbeliever in their entire life.
Is my assignment perfect? Nope. Are there better ways to build a relationship and share Christ over time rather than just walking up to a total stranger and talking about salvation? Absolutely.
But I fear that we mostly talk about our better ideas rather than doing anything.
I’m probably a bit jaded right now after having read another critical blog about how my generation is failing the younger generation, and after just finishing grading another set of more than a hundred witness experience assignments.
But I’m challenging all of us to do more than critique the failings of others!
I’m issuing a challenge to every reader of this blog to walk up to some stranger over the Christmas break and say, “Can I ask you what you believe is true about God?” or some other introductory line that attempts to initiate a gospel conversation.
If you accept the challenge, let me know what happens – with you and with the person you meet.
The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.