Many people are espousing that we live in a post-Christian culture. That may be true to a large extent, but the Christian Culture Center is here to help guard against that and to restore Christian culture wherever we can, to whatever degree we can. Western culture is becoming more and more secular, and many Christians are finding it harder to share their faith because of it. I’d like to share an excerpt from this excellent article on “The Key to Sharing Your Faith in a Post-Christian Culture” in an effort to help overcome the obstacles the world presents in a modern secular culture.
Excerpted from “Mud and the Masterpiece: Seeing Yourself and Others Through the Eyes of Jesus” (Baker Books, 2013)”
It is not enough for one Christian to befriend and share her faith with another person. That worked in a culture that was mostly Christian, where most people grew up with a background knowledge of and respect for the Bible, mainly needing the central theme of grace clarified to decide whether to follow Christ. However, in today’s post-Christian context, people often need the intersection of three elements in order to find faith and become the church:
1. A friendship with someone who truly acts like Jesus—listening, caring, serving, and talking openly about faith in a non-pressuring way. (We talked about this in part 1.)
2. Relationship with a “tribe” of four to five other Christians whom they enjoy hanging out with and who make them feel like they truly belong (the focus of this chapter).
3. A “come as you are” learning environment where they can learn, usually for six to eighteen months, about the Way of Jesus. (We will discuss this in chapter 13.)
When all three of these elements intersect the lives of those far from God, it’s amazing how many people find the love and grace of God and bring their network of friends and family along with them. You will begin to see more and more people, once far from God, now following Christ and leading others to do the same. But first we must build relational momentum.
Europe, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and much of the United States and even South America face post-Christian barriers to people finding faith. It requires relationship and learning to overcome these barriers. In a post-Christian context, most people do not really know much about the Bible or the life-giving Way of Jesus, but there still exists an awareness of Christianity (usually this awareness comes only from negative media or bias about Christians). Honestly, it would be easier in some respects to reach a culture with zero awareness of Christianity than have to overcome negative stereotypes left in the wake of dying churches, but post-Christian is where much of the world lives.
In order for people of post-Christian cultures to become followers of Jesus, they must get to know multiple Christians willing to be open about their own struggles while also demonstrating the hope and fruit of the Spirit-filled life. When non-Christians encounter Christians who act like they never struggle, have all the answers, and suggest quick fixes for every problem, they quickly see through the pharisaical pretense and want nothing to do with that kind of faith.
But seeing people who try to love but struggle, who face real setbacks and need encouragement, who get tempted but ask for prayer and support, and who are learning to stay connected to God’s Spirit alongside a loving spiritual community—that’s what the whole world longs for, and that relational momentum draws people to Jesus. But how does a fledgling core group of Christians build relational momentum?
Build Relationships Where You Live
Jesus’ Great Commission tells us to “make disciples” (learners and followers of Jesus) by first helping them identify with the Father, Son, and Spirit through faith and baptism, then helping them “observe” (not just know) all Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:19–20 NLT). But the context is “as you go.” God has you where you are for a reason. Maybe you hate your job, or struggle with the city you’re in, but maybe that would change if you started to ask, “Who are you drawing to faith around me, and how can I love and serve them as I go?”
Most of us have at least four, some as many as ten, people we interact with regularly who are either not following Christ or are disconnected from his church. Start noticing as you go. As a co-missioned core group, make a list of the people God has already put in your life, and simply begin to pray for them. Steve said, “Joanne and I live with an ‘adopt our block’ mindset. Our goal is to actually get to know our neighbors, pray for them, care for them, live life with them, and then when the opportunity comes up, share Jesus with them.”
The key to sharing your faith in a post-Christian culture is to build relationships with people and share your own experiences of how God works in your life. People love practical examples and favor them over dogma, doctrine and divisive arguments. Share what God has done for you and you’ll get more mileage in your witnessing.