Kie Bowman said the report was one he thought he’d never see.
“I had to look twice to make sure it wasn’t click bait,” he said.
But it wasn’t. It was a Barna report with this statistic — 47 percent of young adult Christians in America now believe it’s wrong to evangelize.
But 94 percent of them still said the best thing that could happen in someone’s life is for that person to find Jesus, he said.
“It sounds incomprehensible,” said Bowman, pastor of Hyde Park Baptist and The Quarries Church, Austin, Texas.
But that’s the reality the Church lives in today, he told the crowd present for the evening session of the Alabama Baptist Evangelism Conference at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, Birmingham, on Feb. 25.
Christians have always faced a world that doesn’t want the gospel, but now they also a face a Church who doesn’t want to offer it to them, he said.
It’s a tragedy, Bowman said, but what’s lacking in the Church today is an ambition for the mission.
“We applaud young people with academic ambition, but when it comes to the gospel, we often think ambition is bad,” he said.
Preaching from Romans 15:17–24, he said the Apostle Paul was a man on a mission and everywhere he went the gospel spread until the whole area had heard.
Bowman said two things are needed to possess that kind of missional ambition:
1. Power from God.
The New Testament is full of evangelism and conversions, but sometimes people today may shrug and say that’s because those evangelists had seen Jesus in the flesh. They say our motivation to share the news of the gospel today might be greater if we had gotten to see one of Jesus’ miracles or His resurrection in person.
But Bowman said that just isn’t true.
“Do you know how many conversions were recorded in the New Testament between the resurrection and Pentecost? Zero. There’s not one conversion,” he said.
The difference wasn’t that they had seen Jesus — it’s that they had the power of the Holy Spirit.
“After the Holy Spirit falls there’s a 10-minute sermon with 3,000 baptisms,” Bowman said.
“What we need today is more power. Why in the world would we ever do evangelism in the power of our own strength when we have the power of the Holy Spirit available to us?”
2. Passion for God.
If you go without the Holy Spirit you go without power; but if you go without a passion for God you don’t go at all, Bowman said.
“Evangelism doesn’t happen by accident,” he said. “It takes a person filled with a passion for God and filled with the Holy Spirit to get up off their blessed assurance and walk across the street and tell somebody about Jesus.”
Just go do it
Christians eventually have to stop preaching about evangelism and debating about it and just go do it, Bowman said.
“God, give us ambition for the mission and a burden for lost souls.”
Next year’s evangelism conference will be held Feb. 24–25 at Heritage Baptist Church, Montgomery. (Grace Thornton)