The lot fell on me to give the brief, 10 minute charge at the Masters in Ministry consecration service today. Here was my outline:
Intro: The two articles, "Collapse" in Christian Science Monitor and the Newsweek article that says the fastest growing religion in America is non-religion, secularism.
Hunch 1: There are some shifts going on, but it's not the end of true "evangelicals," people of God's good news for the world. In the words of Mark Twain, "the rumors of my death are somewhat exaggerated."
Hunch 2: This is in response to the defeat of the older generation of evangelicals in the election. In 2004, they marveled at evangelicalism's power. In 2008, they tell of its destruction.
Moot question: Should we try to force the rest of the world to behave the way we think they should. Moot question. We don't have the power to anymore (secret: we never did in the first place).
Evangelism for the 21st century:
1. evangelism by compassion--others will be attracted to Christianity if we are actually helping them with their worldly needs.
2. evangelism by life change--if I'm no different from anyone else except that I'm forgiven, then Christianity is useless. If Christianity is true, then others should find me someone they want to be like, someone they want to be around, someone they can count on.
3. evangelism by the miraculous--I read from 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5a and mentioned 2 Corinthians and Galatians. Power accompanied the coming of the gospel in the early church.
The fastest growing segment of Christianity is in the southern hemisphere in the 2/3rds world and it is charismatic. I don't speak in tongues, and not everything is genuine, no doubt. But there should be manifestations of God's power in signs and miracles all around us, if this thing we call Christianity is true.