Evangelizing a Post-Christian West: When Being Welcoming Isn’t Enough
by Dustin Messer
“I’ll say this for you, you’re not a jerk.” That comment changed the way I thought about my faith and the way I go about sharing it. Some context may help. I was sitting across the table from a friend who was exploring the Christian faith. She had no background in Christianity except for a fire and brimstone style evangelist she’d occasionally hear preach on the quad of her college. The conversation started around the difference between the Christian understanding of grace, but quickly moved toward the Christian sexual ethic.
She politely but firmly told me that she found the ethic I hold—the one held by Augustine, her grandmother, and Barack Obama during his first term—was regressive, oppressive, and otherwise morally bankrupt. The up side: she left thinking I wasn’t a jerk. The down side: my “unjerkliness” made no difference with regard to her faith, or lack thereof. Of course, this conversation isn’t unique at all. Indeed, even when it doesn’t happen explicitly, it’s no doubt happening implicitly every time we share our faith in the Modern West. Our winsomeness won’t carry the luggage we think it will because people aren’t rejecting the faith because they don’t feel welcome, but because they don’t want in…