For years, the church in Europe has been in decline. We speak of rising secularism, and the evidence is everywhere. Soaring cathedrals stand empty, with the buildings for sale. The German Spiegel Online reports:
Dwindling church attendance and dire financial straits are forcing the Catholic and Protestant Churches in Germany to sell off church buildings en masse. Some are demolished, while others are turned into restaurants or indoor rock climbing centers.
A cathedral in the Netherlands has been turned into a skateboard park. Others are becoming mosques.
Christian church bombed in Nigeria. Muslim convert disowned by family.
We read the headlines, and try to imagine, but it’s very difficult to understand what it’s like to be in their shoes. We love to complain about the demise of Christianity’s cultural acceptance here in the U.S., but we really have no idea what it’s like to lose our home, our family, or our life for our faith.
One way to overcome this barrier is to read Christian biographies. The dialogue may be fictionalized, but the stories are true. As we immerse ourselves in the book, we begin to identify with the main character. What happens to them? How do they react? How would we react in the same circumstances?
Most Christians would agree that it is supremely important to win converts. We were rescued from hell, and it is imperative that we share what God has done for us so that others can be rescued too.
Likewise, most Christians would agree that evangelism is one of, if not the, hardest job they’ve ever faced. Just the thought of it causes our pulse to rise and our stomachs to churn.
I’ve struggled with the issue of evangelism for every one of the 39 years I’ve been a believer. Maybe I remember too well how disrespected I felt for all those years before I met Christ, when Christians tried all sorts of ways to convert me. I was misled, insulted, ridiculed, yelled at, argued with… and none of those things moved me one step closer to faith. In fact, they probably delayed my decision for several years.