Scared to Share

July 25, 2010 — 1 Comment

This is part 3 in a series of posts inspired by the book Souls in Transition.

Young people are sharing their faith less, but why? My gut is they do it less because they believe (& have been told) a myth.

Keith Davy reports on an interesting survey called “How teenagers faith practices are changing” (link to a great summary on the survey – a quick, must-read for college ministers):

“The study suggests a significant decline in believing teens attempts to witness.  Believing teenagers were asked if they had attempted to explain their religious beliefs to someone else with different religious beliefs with a hope that they might receive Jesus Christ as Savior. In 1997, 63% of “born-again” youth answered affirmatively. In December 2009, that number had dropped to 45%.”

Here’s my 2 cents on what causes students (and all of us) to share the gospel less:

  1. Lack of understanding of the gospel. If we really understand it, we can’t help but share it.
  2. They’re gun shy. We’ve all heard the doom and gloom of “post-Christian” America and are scared to approach people who surely must hate Christians.

It’s something that I’ve noticed in students in the last few years – an almost embarrassment to tell others that they are Christians.  The book unChristian really hits the nail on the head as far as students’ reluctance to share their faith:

“2/3 of young born-again Christians say they believe that most outsiders have a negative image of Christianity. Another 1/3 say that the way Christians act and the things they say make them embarrassed to be a Christian. We heard many young believers say that in some circumstances they are reluctant to admit they are Christians. They don’t fear being unpopular, but they feel that raising the Christian flag would actually undermine their ability to connect with people and to maintain credibility with them.”

But here’s the interesting thing, and back to the whole “myth” thing.

Souls in Transition says something REALLY interesting: that it’s a myth that young people are hostile or averse toward talking about religion (christian teens’ fears are unfounded). In their research the authors find non-Christian students “generally seem happy to talk about religion if it happens to come up.” (page 144)

“In the ordinary lives of many emerging adults, religion doesn’t come up often as a topic of conversation, but that’s no because most are actively avoiding it.  It is . . .simply not something of central importance that most would expect to . . .come up in discussions. . . it is no particularly threatening or controversial.” (page 144)

So, to me, the 2 questions we need to address are:

  1. How do we help students more fully experience/understand the gospel (besides the obvious answer of having them listen to TIm Keller sermons 24/7)?
  2. How do we help them “get in the game” and simply talk about their faith as a way of life?

Any ideas?

photo courtesy of Tiago Ribeiro via Flickr


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  • For me, I’d say the biggest reason/excuse/cause of not actively sharing the greatest thing ever was because I didn’t feel it as the greatest thing ever (which is essentially the first penny of your two cents).

    Now I think the reason for this (not to undermine spiritual warfare and the flesh) is growing up in the “church”. What we experience then becomes our status quo, and what a dangerous status quo that has become! I feel as if the Gospel becomes routine and we grow numb to its splendor. We forget the fact that His mercies are NEW every morning. It becomes cheap grace.

    As for how to reestablish, refocus, and rebuild our roots in Christ, there is no “cure all” solution apart from the Spirit. However, it helps to bring to light the status quo we are living in. One good way to see that is, oh yes, raising full time support (among many other things). Couple that dependence with some good literature and you have a concoction for revival.

    – Brian

    P.S. By good literature, I refer to the books I’ve read thus far this summer:
    Acts (you know, that book in the Bible)
    Crazy Love (Chan)
    Forgotten God (Chan)
    Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire (Cymbala)
    Don’t Waste Your Life (Piper)

    Not to say that’s the “recipe”, but it sure stirred something inside me. Sermons are excellent, but I feel reading sticks better.