Changed lives authenticate message of Christ
GLORIETA, N.M. — Seeing a life changed because of Jesus will draw people to faith, according to a British evangelist.
"I suspect your university campuses are becoming much like the U.K. [United Kingdom] — they don't want all that religion stuff," said Dennis Pethers. "People will come to faith in Christ when they see that knowing Him will make their lives better.
"And they will see that when they see that your life is better because of knowing Him."
Pethers, author of "More to Life," a simple four-story approach that enables believers to more easily share their faith and an understanding of the gospel, spoke to collegiate ministry leaders twice during Collegiate Week, a yearly conference for college students and leaders from college campuses and local churches.
The Threads young adult ministry area of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention sponsored the Aug. 7-11 event at LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center near Santa Fe. N.M. More than 2,000 people from across the country attended the sold-out event.
Pethers defines evangelism as "leaving the people that I've met with a better understanding of God than they would have had had they never met me."
Having grown up in London as an atheist, Pethers understands the perspective of the post-Christian culture of his own country. He has a passion for helping unbelievers gain the proper understanding of the gospel and its transforming power to connect them personally to God.
"I was an atheist because I didn't believe in God," he said. "I didn't dislike God. I didn't know any Christians, so I didn't dislike them. I'd never been to church, so I didn't dislike it. No one I knew when to church. I just didn't have any idea that God existed. I didn't know - and didn't know that I didn't know."
He added that he suspected there are many people just like he was. They don't know that they don't know.
He said that students on college campuses have a "wonderful opportunity" every day to meet people who don't know God. For many of the Christian students, not having the pressure of having to hand out a tract or force someone into a decision on the spot will make talking about God something they can incorporate into their lifestyles.
"‘More to Life' is a really simple way to introduce Christ to someone in your dorm room, on your laptop, wherever," Pethers said. "It's a DVD with the stories of people whose lives have been changed by Christ. And that's really the best way to share Christ, isn't it? To show how your life is better for knowing Him? Of course it is."
As an unbeliever becomes interested in knowing more about how Christ has made a difference in a believer's life, that same unbeliever may begin to wonder if Christ could make a difference in his own life. This curiosity can lead to an opportunity for discipleship.
Pethers said, "You know, we Christians can talk all day about Jesus and go to church every day of the week, but that won't really draw people to Him. Changed lives authenticate the message of Jesus."
John Moore, LifeWay's national collegiate ministry leader, told the leaders that what has happened in the U.K and across Europe is what is happening in the U.S.: fewer people go to church; fewer people claim to believe in God at all; and fewer choose to receive Christ.
"By telling where he has been, Dennis can tell us where we are headed," Moore said. "Dennis sees in the rearview mirror what we see through the windshield."
Dennis Pethers, LifeWay author and ministry leader in his native United Kingdom, shared with attendees at LifeWay's Collegiate Week that living authentically will draw unbelievers to faith.