Christian Persuasion in a Post-Christian Culture (Postponed to June 2021)
(*This is not a function of Wheaton College)
Greetings! Below is a short description of an upcoming conference hosted by the Christianity and Communication Studies Network (www.theccsn.com) at Wheaton College that addresses the changing face of Christian communication in our high tech, highly divided culture.
The passing of Billy Graham in 2018—one of Christianity’s most influential leaders of the 20th century—has drawn attention to what many critics have called a “crisis” in evangelism today, highlighting the growing differences between Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials when it comes to sharing one’s faith in Jesus Christ. Why is that? What threats to the Church does this present? Enter this conference.
In June (23-25) 2020, on the campus of Wheaton College (home of the Billy Graham Center), the CCSN is hosting a conference to address the current crisis facing Christian persuasion in a post-Billy Graham era. Our keynote speakers for this two day event include Leonard Sweet and Mark Noll. Sweet and Noll were named by Time Magazine in 2005 as two of twenty-five most influential evangelicals in America. The conference is designed to be small (limited to around 60 people) to help encourage indepth conversations leading to practical solutions. We are inviting a diverse group of pastors, teachers, professors, students, and other influence leaders to join the dialogue. Several books, practical materials and curriculum for churches are planned as one outcome. The conference will help address, in creative ways, the changing face of Christian persuasion in a post-Christian, post-truth, post-civil, ideologically divided digital culture.
Evangelism, or sharing one’s faith, was Jesus’ mandate before He departed earth (Matthew 28:18). Yet a number of factors have limited Christians’ evangelistic impulse over the past decade, including religion’s decline in America, a spreading lethargy toward spiritual matters, and a rise of discrimination against evangelicals in many power sectors. Shortly after Billy Graham’s death, a research study reported that nearly half of practicing Christian millennials (our 20-30 somethings) who attend church regularly and who strongly believe faith is important said that it’s “wrong to share one’s personal beliefs with someone of a different faith in hopes that they will one day share the same faith.”
How did we get here? Why are millennials—and arguably the next generation of Christians—drawn to believe this way? What role does digital culture and social media play in these findings? What will be the most effective persuasive communication strategies for the next generation given our unique cultural, political, and moral crises? Just as in times past when the church encountered new cultural expectations and norms, Christians are now in crisis as we consider what these changes mean for the future of Christian witness into the 21st century.
Contact information: [email protected]