20060119

Sharing that Works

recently, i was posed with a very interesting question, "what method of evangelism works?" my very first, knee-jerk reaction is to say, "all methods work." but than, before i could open my mouth to speak, they qualified the question but saying, "let me rephrase that, which method do you think works best?" ok now, that changes thing and my answer, when they turned it into a more personal question, i could give a more personal answer. my answer was, "i think relationship sharing works over any form of evangelism today."

"hummm" they added, and i waited for a reply. then it came, and it was not the reply i was thinking. they added, "and what program do you use that teaches this 'relationship evangelism'?" well, my "wise ass" remark would have been, "life" but than i realized that i decided to stop being a wise ass [out loud anyway] and thought for a moment and said, "life" [that's when i figured out that the answer did not make it a "wise ass answer" it was the way i said it did]. then i added, "the only way to learn relationship sharing is to live a life connected with people - and mostly people not in the church. there is no "method" to how it is done, or "core principles," or "program" on how it is done. you just live, eat, laugh, cry, love and get angry with others."

they were not sure what all that meant and how it all connected, but there was hope - a glimmer of hope - a shining, light, bright in the soul glimmer of hope when they said, "could you explain the difference between standard evangelism and what you see as 'relationship sharing' [they actually did the classic "finger quote" thing that always speaks more then the question being asked]? well, pull down my pants and slap me with wet news paper [not in public], they opened the door for me to share with them what i thought, and i was going to take them up on the offer - but i soon found myself saying, "i would like to express more on what i think works, and not worry about what they are doing wrong." what? did i say that? did i say i did not desire to "compare and contrast?" man, this emerging thing is going deep. so, this is what i old them:

"in a relationship sharing reality my desire in getting to know you, is for you today. my desire is that i get to know you for you; not because you will come to my church or because i would have increased the kingdom by one. my desire to be your friend is simply to be your friend, and not because i might convince you to follow christ. now, would i desire you follow christ? sure, you bet. but if that is my motivation in becoming your friend, i have become your friend on pretenses other they just wanting to know you. to truly share, to truly live connected to another is the driving force of our faith. i share my faith, because i live my faith. my faith is my life, and people see it and want to know about it. people do not find christ because i can quote scripture, they find christ in me and in my daily struggles and walk in faith.

in this faith journey, in this faith walk, i seek to meet the needs of people today, their current needs and not the needs that might come after death. people are not worried about after they die, they want to live in christ while they are alive. the idea is not to be "future" but to be now. i love the way it is in "the message" when john, a student and friend of jesus said, "the Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. we saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish." that is how we need to be, we need to be "the flesh of the word in the neighborhood." if we are not, no amount of tracks, tapes, books, or cute little "jesus loves you" stuff will change anything.

one of the greatest joys in my life was watching a man move from questions, to being a follower. it had noting to do with magic words, secret formulas or special acts - it was just two guys talking and sharing life.

4 comments:

Rich said...

John,

Fantastic post!

Rich

Craig said...

John,
I like your answer, but I would have given a different one.
I would say that whatever form of evangelism God leads you to is the best form of evangelism for you at the moment. I would qualify that by saying that God leads us into things that reflect the greatest and second greatest commandments.
So, as innocent as "relationship evangelism" is, and as much as I agree with it, it's interesting that the person that you were talking about it with still wanted to frame it as a program. There is a danger with anything of it becoming "programised" or worse yet "Idolized".
If by relationship evangelism, you mean the greatest and second greatest commandments, as in a relationship of love with our creater and our neighbours, then your answer was awesome!

spamthewunderdog said...

It has been a while since I posted. Life is frustrating, moment by moment I feel like I struggle with every aspect of my life, and all it does is leave me annoyed. In the famous words of Douglas Adams, my life seems to be hanging by the balance "In exactly the way that yellow bricks don't" This past year my life has just come crashing down. Mostly due to my inability to be honest about sin in my life and really feel the brokenness of it all and ask for help. But I still deal with the daily frustration of hearing people preach words that have no feet to them.

But that is for another post...

So I am living life annoyed.
Annoyed at home...
Annoyed at Church...
Annoyed in my car...
Annoyed in my small group...
Annoyed at work...

And just then, God whispers from an unlikely voice.

I work with a handicapped 35 year old dude, who we will call JS. JS comes from a sort of Jewish Christian thingamabob. To be honest I don't really understand much of it, and am turned off by much of it because JS's dad seems to think that they are the only ones who will be saved and that all the world is subservient to them (you can read "him" here if you want.). But I don't get that vibe from JS at all, he really is a simple sort of guy. His day is pretty much made if you tell him he is going to get a haircut and a shave. Simple things carry a sort of glory for JS, they have weight, and he feels it and it effects him. But most of the time I just sort of zone out, "Oh no, here he goes again about haircuts, and shaves, and going home, and eating potato salad, etc..." I am ashamed to say that so much of who JS is and what makes him tick annoys me to the point that I literally snuff his life out in my presence, I turn him off.

One day about a month ago I was working with JS and doing paperwork. And he was standing over the table talking for literally 30 minutes, so I did what I always do. I turned him off in my mind. And he continued to stand there and talk, and talk, and talk. After about another 10 minutes I was done with my paperwork, and I looked up and saw and heard a scene that convicted me in the way that a murderer feels convicted as he feels the cold chemicals of death go through his veins.

There was JS, with his eyes closed and his hand in the air and he was saying:

"thank you Jesus for Gary, because he loves me and Charlie, and he helps us cook good food, and he lets us watch TV, and he lets us listen to music in his car, and he always shakes my hand when I see him."


And boy, he was serious. When he finished he opened his eyes and said, "I love you Gary...God loves all His Children."

JS's faith is real...it is not fake...or compartmentalized to words spoken behind closed doors, or even in Church on Sunday morning.

I want to have that kind of faith, and live amongst people who have that kind of faith.

I want the message of Christ to become so empowering a force in my life, that I act towards everyone (even those who dis me) in thankfulness that I just get to know them.

I want the Church to be a place where words spoken to me have feet. That people don't just speak to me and my condition(s), but instead walk with me, beside me, helping to support me.

I want to hear the Church say with every fiber of who they are, who they live, who they think, etc..."I love you Gary...God loves all His Children"

How does this fit in with what John is saying? Well, it dawned on me as I read John, and pondered my own life events, that God works both ways in relationships. If we go with pretense, to "bring" Christ to a person, we may miss that Christ is bringing a person to us for no other reason than...relationship.

Relationships are the way that we rub shoulders with the divine.

Call Me Ishmael said...

Interesting thoughts. I'll have to chew on them a while. (Acts 26:29)