Archive for February 7th, 2008
Today is grocery shopping day at our house. My wife and I went to Meijer’s to shop ,and then we stopped at Captain D’s for a Lenten fish lunch.
The cashier that waited on us was a young woman in her twenties. She had a hard time getting our order straight. Inwardly, I felt the impatient monster struggling to get out, but I successfully subdued him. I paid her and thanked her for taking our order.
While we were sitting at our table this same woman came by and asked us if everyone was OK. I told her yes and then I handed her 2 unused, wrapped plastic forks. I said to her , "Here you can have these back. They have only been used once." The woman laughed and she said "I wish my husband had a sense of humor like you." She looked at my wife and said "is he always this way?" My wife chuckled and then said " After thirty years of marriage you get used to it" The woman replied, "well I have only been married three years." She gave us a longing look and I said to her, "you have a great day." She replied, "you too."
By now many of you who are reading this are thinking, "what’s up with this guy? I thought this post is about evangelism."
It is, and this story has everything to do with evangelism in the 21st century.
What happened during my lunch at Captain D’s?
- I met someone I didn’t know
- I made a human connection with her
- The woman expressed that there was a problem in her marriage. Her and her husband are at the three year stage where all of sudden the realities of marriage usually become fully known and sometimes it isn’t pretty
- I treated the woman as a fellow human being and the door was left open for future interaction
- The woman met a couple who had been married thirty years and survived
- The woman will remember me as the guy who made the joke about the forks
I am convinced that evangelism in the 21st century is all about meeting people where they are and with love and sincerity attempting to enter into their lives.
As a Christian, it is imperative I walk in the love of Christ in my dealings with all people. I never know when I might be given the opportunity to enter into a person’s life and make the gospel known to them.
When I visit Captain D’s again I will seek out this woman and try to engage her in further conversation.
- "You told me you have been married for three years?’ Where did you and your husband meet?
- "Are you from Defiance?" If not, "where are you originally from?"
- "Do you have children?"
And so the conversation builds. I must always remember that I am at the woman’s place of employment and I must respect her space and work obligation. It would have been much easier to leave a tract on the table, but most likely the tract would have ended up in the trash
When we shop at Meijer’s each Thursday, we seek out the same cashiers. Sometimes we have to wait in a longer line to get the cashier we want. Once again, it is all about making loving, personal contact with people.
Everyone of us have a sphere of influence. Within this sphere are people that you and I can uniquely reach with the gospel. The most ineffective person, as a rule, when it comes to evangelism, is a pastor. The pastor spends most of his time with the saved. He is busy preparing sermons and administrating the Church. We can debate whether or not this is the way it should be, but that is how it is.
The most effective people in reaching others with the gospel are the people in pew. They work "in the world". They are around unsaved people all day. Perhaps they have tried all the latest evangelistic gimmicks: cute tracts, wearing a Christian shirt, leaving their bible out on the desk, hanging Christian paraphernalia around their cubicle, objecting when someone swears, etc. All this has gotten them is the "boy they are a religious nut" label.
Perhaps, it is time to unleash the people in the pew and allow them to be "people in the world but not of the world." We need to burn down the Christian Ghetto. Stop withdrawing from the world.
Once people are let loose to go unto "their world" they are then in a position to involve themselves in the live’s of others. Instead of withdrawing into the four walls of the church, we need to deliberately engage others in the world they live in. This is what I mean when I say we need to become "worldly for Christ."
There are many ways to do this, but the bottom line is that we need to go to where sinners are. Not to preach at them, but to befriend them. Imagine the local Baptist preacher going down to the local tavern and having a beer with the guys. Such scandal, eh? Jesus would be pleased, I am sure.
Join some secular clubs that will put you in contact with people. I am currently getting ready to participate in a surrogate parent program where I will advocate for children in the court system. I saw this as a great opportunity to meet people, help them, and perhaps reach them with the good news of the gospel.
One of the interesting things coming out of the emerging Church movement is the notion of the Third Place. The first place is home. The second place is work. The third place are the places where we congregate as a community.
Some thoughtful emergent’s are starting up businesses with the express purpose of providing places where the community can congregate, and within that context ministry can take place.
I have discussed with my older sons about perhaps starting a music venue in the Defiance area. This would be a place where aspiring artists could come and perform. They would need to have some form of food and drink available and the place would be open to all who would like to come. My older sons are musicians and this would provide them an excellent venue to interact with those they share a common connection. (music) Once again, it is all about making that first contact with people. The end purpose is to glorify God and to bring others into the Kingdom of God.
Methods change. What I have written here is about methods I think will be effective in the 21st century. The message doesn’t change. The good news is still the good news.
The message must be contextualized. It does little good to use methods and language that a postmodern generation does not understand nor will respond to. This requires hard work on our part. We must rethink the process. We must evaluate our methods. We must never forget that our purpose is to see others know the joy of following after Jesus Christ.
I found this video via a friend. If you go to the comments section you can see that I weighed in with a question of my own. What cracks me up is the person who is deriding the chaplain because she is a woman. Somehow this video is supposed to illustrate what is wrong with the people that the blog owner disagrees with. None the less, the man or woman’s question of what would you say to this person is a good one. Even if some of the commenters seem to miss the fact that it is a T.V show and not real.
This was recently posted at CRN!
1 Cororinthians 2:1-2 Â Â And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
I knew weren’t reading from the same book!Â I Cororinthians must be the book that holds all the damning evidence agains the evil leaders of the emerging / purpose-driven / postmodern church
A little humor for your day.
In order for the rich benefits of alternative atonement theology to move beyond the circles of those who read theology books we must develop alternative imagery. We need not just a golf bag full of different explanations; we need a bag full of different imagery to use in conversations over coffee, in sermons, youth meetings, on blogs, etc. This contest aims to help this happen both through encouraging a wide number of people to work at developing an image, and then also by sharing the best images so that many others can use them.
So can somebody enlighten me as to what is wrong with this?Â We commonly speak in metaphors when describing Biblical principles because it is a way to bring understanding to a wider audience.Â Many of the narratives and events in Scripture contain truths that can be gleaned from a surface level reading, but once one digs deeper, a more multi-faceted picture emerges.Â By limiting ourselves by saying our view of Christ’s death and resurrection is the “one true meaning of Christâ€™s atonement”, as the Editor puts it, we are, I believe, closing ourselves off from important truths that God might want to reveal to us.
I would be interested to hear what the Apostle Paul said was the “one true meaning” of the Atonement.Â It seems to me that Paul used a whole arsenal of images and metaphors at his disposal to describe the work of Christ on the cross to the people to whom he was writing.Â In Romans, Christ’s death is described in judicial terms because these image were something the Romans saw everyday.Â They knew what it meant to be condemned by the law.Â In Colossians, Christ is described as being victorious over the power of Satan.Â These images would be normal to a city that celebrated milatary strength and power.Â In Philipians, Christ is held up as the ultimate example.Â The list could go on and on.
The thing is that none of these descriptions invalidates the other.Â They are merely different perspective on the grand, cosmic event that was the death and resurrection of Christ.Â As long as we point to the that as the center of gravity that our faith orbits around, it seems part of the Church’s mission is to communicate it as best as possible wherever and whenever we are.