Online searches say much about our fascinations, fears, and faith. According to Yahoo!, these were the top 10 searches in 2014, from number 10 to number one: Jennifer Aniston, the iPhone 6, Miley Cyrus, the Disney movie Frozen, Kim Kardashian, Kaley Cuoco, Jennifer Lawrence, Ariana Grande, Minecraft, and Ebola. Clearly, we’re fascinated by Hollywood and high tech, and afraid of diseases.
Notice what topic was missing: God. Does this mean that the Lord is absent from the Internet? Not at all. According to the Barna Group, one third of all Millennials (adults ages 18-29) regularly view online videos pertaining to faith. The number increases to more than half of Christian Millennials.
What about other spiritual resources? When asked where they would go if seeking spiritual guidance, 41 percent of Millennials and 29 percent of adults 30 years and older say they would “talk or listen to an inspirational person.” Twenty-two percent of Millennials and 28 percent of adults 30 and older would “read an inspirational book.” However, only one in six from both groups says he or she would turn to the church.
It is obvious that the church must go to those who will not come to us. Marketing exists because businesses know they can’t wait on customers to find them. Jesus called his first followers to be “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Fishermen don’t wait for fish to jump into their boat.
The other side knows this. Religion News Service recently profiled “atheist evangelists,” people who spend hours online trying to convince others that there is no God. “Most people won’t change their minds,” one says. “But maybe some of the people reading and not commenting might be on the fence and I might influence them.”
The shepherds came to the manger because an angel told them, “I bring you good news” (Luke 2:10). The Greek phrase literally says, “I evangelize you” or “I give you the gospel.” The shepherds would never have come to Jesus if the angelic evangelist had not first come to the shepherds.
So atheist evangelists are on one side, angelic evangelists on the other. You and I decide which side is ours. Christmas is the best season of the year for sharing our faith. Non-believers are singing carols with Christian words. Many are drawn to Christmas traditions they remember from childhood. Statistically, they are more likely to attend worship services on Christmas Eve than on any other day of the year. But we must invite them.
Would you take a moment now to ask God if there is a shepherd he wants you to help find Christ this Christmas? Pray for this person by name. Ask the Lord to show you how you can serve his or her needs, demonstrating God’s love in yours. Pray for the opportunity to invite this person to worship with you, and the boldness to share your faith with compassion and grace.
The greatest Christmas gift you can give is Jesus.