This week had success and failure.
The success was in learning about evangelism. On my quest to find a successful evangelist, a man called Allen seemed to rise to the top. I went to look up his number and in the process came across the BMA website where a number of his talks at Church Planting conferences are available for download.
The talk I listened to was Presenting the Gospel Innovatively. It wasn’t so much a master plan for success as a look at the Master’s methods in engaging people. It was good to open my mind a bit to the array of possibilities. One of the most interesting methods was telling stories. For instance, when sitting on the bus with John Doe, you tell him the story of the Prodigal Son. Then you ask him what he thinks it means.
Allen says that if you want a non-Menno church you need to evangelize till you’re blue in the face, because to have a non-Menno church you need to bring people into your church faster than you have babies.
My fail this week was in not making any evangelistic contact. Maybe one of you did. Would you share the story with us?
P.S. In the aforementioned recording, Allen relates a humorous story involving his response to an affectionate couple in a park.
The personal contact component of week 2 worked out nicely. In my mind, cold call evangelism has kind of been the holy grail of evangelism. If you can do that, you can do anything. In fact, if you’re good at it, you could probably be raking in big bucks in a sales job, but that’s a different topic.
However, I began to question a bit how effective it really is. It seems most people’s religious beliefs are pretty difficult to budge over the course of years, let alone a 5 minute hit and run. Luckily I was asked to participate at a Hands of Christ clean up project. We had started the clean up project on a prior day, so I had already started getting to know Leland.
So I asked Leland about his religious beliefs. Well, it turns out he was raised Presbyterian and was on his way to becoming a Baptist priest. Then as a part of his prep he studied world religions. He begin to note the similarities between religions. So the upshot is that he’s still sort of Baptist, but he is very open minded. He described some interesting theories on aliens and such, and invited further discussion.
On the learning something new about evangelism, it was an epic fail. Thursday evening it was decided I would take a drive to the East, returning on Sunday if things went well. They did, and I’m thankful for the blessing of safety. But no, I did not get around to networking with an evangelist. I didn’t have time. I was busy getting a car.
Doesn’t that sound so familiar. I just couldn’t get around to it. I’m just too busy. Blah, blah, blah. The truth for me and for you, is that if you ain’t evangelizin’ or learnin’ bout it, its cause you don’t feel like it. So we see that apparently I don’t feel like networking with evangelists. Maybe this week I will be able to push through.
On my way in to Target I spied a fellow who seemed less intimidating than some. I followed him till he turned off the main aisle. The following is an approximation of our conversation:
Me: Here’s $10 if you answer 3 questions for me
Him: [Not looking convinced]
Him: [Still not looking convinced] What is it?
Me: Do you believe in a higher power?
Him: Yes I do.
Shucks, I was hoping he’d say what high power. Now I have to use up another question on it.
Me: What higher power?
Him: [Showing me a cross on his ear lobe] Jesus Christ
Me: Why do you believe in Him?
Him: Well, ’cause my parents raised me that way.
Me: [Handing him $10 bill and shaking his hand] Nice to meet you brother.
Him: Thanks! You just paid for my bags.
Me: God bless you [Exits stage]
Okay, so I got the personal contact part done for the week. The learning-about-evangelism part was, well, 1/2 credit?
I emailed a bunch of missionary and pastor types, asking them who came to mind as an especially effective evangelist. I decided against publishing the list here. Email me if you are interested. I’m hoping to interact with some of these people in the coming weeks.
I am critical of the fact that many Mennonites “believe” in evangelism and don’t do it.
I am one of those Mennonites.
So here’s my repentance. Not the “I’m sorry and will you forgive me so that I feel good again” kind. I mean the kind where I try to change a little bit.
My goal is do two things every week—baby steps if you will.
1. Make an evangelistic contact
2. Learn something about effective evangelism
My initial commitment is for the next several weeks before I go on an international trip.
This week I have one down and one to go, with only one day left. And yes, I plan to share my failures here as well. As with most worthwhile projects, this might not work.
Care to join me?