I could list all kinds of reasons that evangelism’s difficult. It can be frightening to try to speak truth into someone else’s life. We may not have all the answers to somebody’s questions. It might be that a friend rejects us because of our attempt to share the gospel with him or her. Even worse, we might face persecution—particularly around the world—for our faithfulness. Behind all these reasons is also a supernatural enemy who wants to keep us from telling the good news (Eph 6:10-12).
There is, though, another reason on my mind today that explains why evangelism is more difficult. I realized it a few years ago at the gym, but it seems the problem is only worse now.
Let me explain. Many years ago, I began going to the gym because (1) I needed the exercise to take care of the body God has given me, and (2) I wanted to be around non-believers more. In the gym, I found a bunch of people who cared for their physical well-being but thought little about their spiritual condition. Back then, I did have ongoing opportunities to speak of Jesus at the counter, in the locker room, on the gym floor, and even in the parking lot.
It’s not so easy anymore. On one hand, it’s increasingly difficult to talk to anyone when everybody is wearing headphones or ear pods. Many drive to the gym with their music in their ears, and they seldom hear anything other than what they alone can hear. It’s tough to tell people about Jesus when nobody’s listening.
On the other hand, that’s just a symptom of what’s going on around us. We communicate via texts—and even then often without complete words. In fact, we speak with emojis quite often. Then, we’re engrossed in our phones even when we are trying to have a conversation with someone. We listen with one ear while our mind is more committed elsewhere. We take little time to talk because it seems no one wants to hear.
Here’s my point: it’s hard to do evangelism when nobody’s really talking to anybody. As believers, we—beginning with me, for I’m guilty, too—must take the initiative to engage people, draw their interest and attention to the gospel, and speak the good news clearly to them in the few minutes they might grant us. That means we create opportunities by initiating conversations, listening closely to others, and taking those conversations clearly and concisely to the gospel.
It’s just hard to do.
Would you pray for me that I would stay faithful to this task?
It would appear that people are tuning out everything other than what they want to hear and what they choose to hear. Even when they are wearing head phones or ear pods, they may be playing what they are listening to so loudly that it drown out any other sounds around them and forces others to listen to what they have no interest in hearing, except those who are wearing headphones or ear pods – or as my university library dispenses free to students, ear plugs! The desire to immerse oneself in sound other than natural sound is in part generational and in part cultural. I have a neighbor who if he does not wake me every morning, keeps me from sleeping, playing music so loud on his car radio or MP3 player that it causes the walls of my apartment to vibrate and hurts my ears. It may be a form of self-expression but it shows no consideration for others. While I enjoy singing, listening to music ad other people singing, and take vocal classes at my university, I also prefer to listen to the natural sounds in my environment, the sound of the birds, the rustle of the leaves in the trees, the singing of the wind outside my windows, the the sound of the timber framework of my apartment expanding and contracting with changes in temperature, the crowing of a rooster i the morning, the chirping of a cricket, and other background sounds. I am not afraid of silence. At the same time I understand the disorienting effect of total silence on the human mind. The tendency to block out what we don’t want to hear and to substitute man-made sounds for natural ones is an obstacle to not just evangelism but social interaction of any kind. We are in the midst of an epidemic of loneliness but our use of technology and the habits that we have acquired with its use, accounts in part for this loneliness. Human beings are social beings. They were not meant to live solitary lives disconnected from their fellow human beings. However, our use of technology and our growing dependence upon it is isolating us from each other and contributing to the anxiety and depression that are beginnig to reach epidemic proportions in our society.