“Evangelism Strategies” is an interview-series that talks with Christian leaders in the hope of finding out how we can do a better job of sharing the gospel. This week we talk to Mikey Lynch. Mikey is Campus Director of the University Fellowship of Christians at the University of Tasmania’s Hobart Campus. He is also a director of Geneva Push and helps lead the Vision 100 Tasmanian mission network.
TGCA: What are the special challenges of evangelism in the context of your ministry?
I’m not sure if we have any special challenges. Among uni students, I am encountering more apathy than antagonism: they are not necessarily hostile to Christianity, it is just irrelevant, like rollerblading or cassette tapes. The idea of participating in religious events, by attending something is so foreign. So I feel like I’m depending on God’s providential and miraculous work, as well as personal invitation.
For older people, there is a massive catalogue of barriers: questions about sexual ethics, gender politics, Christian support of right-wing politics, the dubious track record of the Christian West, questions about science. I’ve found being thoughtful and respectful gains a hearing with people who have previously been entirely dismissive.
TGCA: Are there any particular changes that you’ve noticed occurring in recent times?
Recently among younger uni students I am noticing that they are so ignorant of Christianity that it is almost fascinating in an esoteric way. They are no longer ‘Christian atheists’ or ‘post-Christian’ … they are entirely non-Christian. In some ways that is easier.
I’m not saying anything new if I observe that the larger culture is extremely outraged by Christian ethical claims: no longer just disagreeing, but actually decrying our beliefs.
TGCA: How have these things been working?
I don’t think training Christians to be able to deliver Two Ways To Live or training them to do walk up evangelism is the main priority. I think Two Ways To Live is great to learn for lots of reasons, but we also need to learn to do evangelism through conversation. … And in dribs and drabs. … And in the context of occasional invitations. … And through apologetics. … And by sharing our personal experience. This is where I focus my training for your average Christian much more than direct gospel presentation.
TGCA: Is there any key bit of advice you would give to people who find evangelism difficult?
Evangelism is difficult, so it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. Take the pressure off yourself to be “An Evangelist,” and instead be “A Christian Who Wants To Talk About Jesus Where Possible.” Evangelism will be more scary if you think you have to somehow engineer personal conversations into full gospel presentations. It will be easier if it’s about looking for opportunities to share what you can, and then extending invitations to events, or sending things to read/watch/listen to.
That’s still difficult, of course.
Photos: Lionel Fernandez Roca, flickr