About this series: Evangelism in our increasingly postmodern world is a complex and multifaceted endeavor, as members of churches and Christian outreach ministries strive to proclaim the message of salvation and newness of life in Christ in relevant and effective ways. Becoming familiar with reasons evangelism is significant, approaches to evangelism, and arenas in which it occurs can greatly enhance the effectiveness of outreach and evangelism ministries.
Evangelism happens in a multitude of contexts with widely varying audiences.Following is a summary of the special opportunities and challenges of 14 different evangelistic arenas in our postmodern world. Within these arenas, the most effective approach to evangelism in today’s culture is relational evangelism, although confrontational and proclamational evangelism still have relevance in many contexts. (Check out Part 2 of this series for more on these three approaches.)
Apologetics Ministries and Literature
The number of ministries focused on apologetics has proliferated along with an unprecedented breadth and depth of associated literature. This trend will continue to grow in response to our increasingly pluralistic and secularized culture.
Seeker-Friendly Churches (and Training Programs within these Churches)
More churches will develop programs that are designed to attract unbelievers to the life of the church as a safe and loving community. These churches also are increasingly committed to training their people to reach out to people in their arenas of influence.
Ministries Reaching Business and Professional People
Innovative ministries to people in the marketplace have been growing on the local and national levels. Many of these ministries apply a biblical philosophy of work in their teaching and outreach efforts to demonstrate that Scripture is relevant to work-related issues.
College Campus Ministries and Outreaches
College and university outreaches are aimed at both evangelism and discipleship, and these organizations should continue to flourish. Many of them seek to demonstrate the relevance of the Christian worldview as the most coherent, consistent, and comprehensive approach to truth.
High School Ministries and Outreaches
Creative ministries that are targeted to high school students see the strategic importance for this time of life in terms of openness to the gospel and the preparation of young people with biblical resources for the challenges of adult life.
Those who have been called to children’s evangelism know that it is through this vehicle that parents also can come into contact with their need for the gospel. An unprecedented diversity and quality of literature is designed to attract children to the person of Jesus Christ.
With an ever-increasing singles population in North America, many ministries reach these people through the creation of communities and events that expose singles to the claims of Jesus Christ. Many of these ministries are quite innovative, and a growing number of churches are targeting this significant segment of the population.
Ministries that focus specifically on men and the issues they face as well as women and their concerns have multipled in recent years. These range from programs in churches to conference and seminar ministries.
The radically changing population demographics in North America in recent decades have revealed a strong need for ministries to ethnic and racial minorities, including growing populations of Latinos, Asians, and African Americans. These burgeoning ministries recognize the importance of demonstrating the relevance of the gospel in word and deed to people from diverse cultural backgrounds.
For years, many ministries have been leveraging radio, television, and film to spread the Good News. Today, internet-based resources, including social media, websites, and blogs, offer some of the greatest opportunities for reaching people around the world.
Prison Fellowship and related prison ministries have a growing presence and effectiveness in county, state, and federal prison systems. Studies have shown these programs lead to lower repeat-offender rates (by an impressive 50 percent according to one study).
Ministries to Politicians and Influencers
There are a number of ministries that have been quietly focusing on politicians and influencers in the United States and abroad. The Fellowship and The Trinity Forum are just two examples of thoughtful and engaging strategies that creates safe places for influential people without calling attention to themselves.
Ministries Leveraging the Culture for Evangelism
Sports, music, film, literature, and art are all cultural expressions that can be leveraged for the sake of the gospel, and more ministries than ever are using cultural interests for this purpose. Some of these ministries are especially relevant in our postmodern world, because they stress compelling reasons to believe in God based on the desires and longings of the heart.
Cult and New Age Awareness Ministries
Our pluralistic culture is more open than ever to a plethora of counterfeit spiritualties. Many ministries focus on exposing the teachings of various cults and New Age religions, and demonstrating the uniqueness of the person and work of Jesus Christ. One example of such a ministry is the Institute for Religious Research, started by my friend (and coauthor on multiple books) Robert M. Bowman.
Get equipped to share your faith! Ken Boa’s bestselling apologetics resources include I’m Glad You Asked (with Larry Moody), 20 Compelling Evidences That God Exists, and Faith Has Its Reasons (the latter two with Robert M. Bowman), all available in the Ken Boa Store.