Kelley Otto, one of our staff here at Chico State, follows up every person she meets on campus during evangelism who claims to be a Christian with this question. I'm inspired by her courage and intentionality as in many cases the question reveals signs of a lack of saving faith.
Ken's blogged about It's Not Our Job To Reach Everyone. A growing category of students that we do have the opportunity to reach is cultural Christians, as many of them are in our movements, often times completely unaware that they are in fact a false front like the image above.
During our most recent outreach we had a student go out and share the Gospel on one day, and then check the box that they trusted Christ for the first time at our meeting the next day. As we discussed this issue and debriefed the outreach the underlying question became, 'How can we help cultural Christians discern whether they in fact are saved?'
I'm curious to hear your experiences and particularly if you have been able to have conversations with students that have been fruitful in producing either awareness or a genuine decision for Christ.
Some observations from my experience:
- Many of these students are often prideful, materialistic, and self-centered. In many cases the soil of their hearts feels harder than that of a raw, party-going student that revels in their unbelief.
- Some of these students demonstrate that they probably are but might not be saved. Often times I find myself waiting for an official sign so to speak that they are not saved so that I can engage this issue.
- I've yet to discern what knowledge and experiences they need to be assured of their salvation. For me personally it was the understanding of the Holy Spirit and the real life experiences that demonstrated his activity in my life. I'm not sure that this resonates as much with today's student, as so many exude this spiritual pretentiousness and 'feeling spiritual' with the work of the Holy Spirit.
Some Initial Questions:
- What percentage of students in your movement/ministry/etc would you estimate are culturally Christian? Have you seen this grow, decline, or stay the same in the last couple years?
- What are you doing about it? Have you engaged in any sort of training of staff and student leaders that specifically addresses this problem?
- It seems as though our job in CCC has become more complex in this realm. Especially in the Fall or gathering season of ministry, we now reach out to worldly non-believers, mobilize believers, AND follow up cultural Christians. Have you experienced this complexity? How have you responded? What changes have you made to adapt to this reality?