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Question 42

Q: In your book Ten Lies about God you state “let’s honestly admit that a growing number of Americans think that the Church is irrelevant.”

My question then is: How exactly do we, as born again Christians, engage those unsaved who find the church to be irrelevant? Must we wait for a deathbed opportunity where perhaps then such a person is more receptive?

Asked by: Devon, Michigan


A: Devon, I’m so glad that you asked that question. Yes, I think that there are many people in America who believe that the church is irrelevant.

Some of this might be our fault, but some of the reasons might not be our fault at all. The unsaved might be looking for the kind of “relevance” that we can’t provide.

Interestingly, in the book of Acts you have two responses to the church. On the one hand, people stayed away because of the holiness of the people—it repelled them and I’m sure they thought the church was in one sense irrelevant. On the other hand, people were also attracted to the church because of the love of the people.

How do we win the lost? Although we continue to invite people to church (because many people are willing to come), we also know that most will not enter our doors because they see the church as “irrelevant.” The answer, it seems to be, is that we must befriend the world as individuals and as these bridges are built, we win a hearing in their lives.

I believe that mass evangelism, as we once knew it, is probably not the way we win people to Christ today. Billy Graham, of course, was able to draw large crowds because of his fame. But today it’s very difficult for us to invite someone to church and say, “come to church with me because we have a special speaker.” People simply don’t care, and there are too many competing voices—television, the internet, and all kinds of other things.

In short, we win them individually by our authenticity, by our integrity, and by our love. I think that Americans today desire to see Christians who really live out their faith; Christians who aren’t only against certain things, but are for other things and are willing to make some sacrifices on behalf of their principles and on behalf of other people. The only way we can do it is by individually impacting the culture wherever God has planted us.

I certainly hope and pray that you, Devon, will do that in your sphere of influence. And please pray for me that I might be able to do it in mine.

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