Sunday, October 18, 2009

ACTUALLY LET'S START NOW.

Ok ok so the sermon today was a continuation in the series of sermons about evangelism. Sadly, the word often carries with it the connotations of annoying, rude, belligerent overzealous Christian on the street forcing pamphlets on you that you will promptly throw in the bin. It really shouldn't be like that, however, because how on earth is that showing anyone the love of God?

"Evangelism is not salesmanship. It is not urging people, pressing them, coercing them, overwhelming them or subduing them. Evangelism is telling a message. Evangelism is reporting the good news" (Richard C. Halverson)

So, reporting back from Pastor Daryl: there are three tools, or 'weapons' that we can use in evangelism.

1. Prayer
Jesus always went away by himself to a lonely place to pray before going into the public eye. If he needed to talk with God before evangelising, how much more do we?
Prayer is the only thing we can do to invoke God. “God does nothing except in answer to prayer.” (Wesley) I don't know if that's going too far, but it does hammer the point home. Also, I can't remember who, but someone said that God does His greatest works through prayer. If you think you can't do anything to help someone, you're wrong. So get praying!
Prayer is our shield against the attempts of Satan to poke and prod us away from God. Through prayer we can turn any of Satan's weapons against him - if he uses fear, then we can pray to God in that time of fear. If he uses anger, we can yell out to God to help us. If he uses jealousy, monetary concerns, illness, grief - we can pray. And by using these wounds as a springboard for more urgent, genuine prayer, we can really piss Satan off.
It's not us, but God who will bring whoever you're evangelising to, to Himself. We can't do it. So pray for them, even (or especially!) if they're really negative towards Christianity.

2. Gospel
This is the grounds on which we base our faith. The gospel is our evidence, and a bloody good bit of work it is too. It's far more historically solid than most of the definitive 'historical' texts, but so many people don't know that. So do your research, read up, and with a really solid knowledge base, you don't have to flounder when people ask you questions. (Just me or does this sound like an ad?? o_____o;; )

3. Your story

People like stories. Advertising knows this. All I have to say is, 'charter boat'.
You can tell people as much as you like about the gospel, the bible, etc etc, but if nothing's changed in your life, or you don't talk about how God's ridiculous grace and mercy and love have affected you, then your argument is pretty poor. Your story is one of the most compelling tools, so get to know it, and be able to explain very precisely how God has worked in your life. Write it down. Take an hour and 750 words and start from the beginning (a very good place to start). Then have a concise (not concise in the way that the Concise Oxford Dictionary is concise, though. Really properly - maybe 50 - 100 words if that, or do that 25 words or less thing) version, in case someone asks you and there's no time to go through the whole thing.

Pastor Daryl had a story in which another pastor was just leaving this boat party his family had been invited to, and he had one foot on the ladder of the party boat, one foot in the dinghy he was going back to his houseboat his family was holidaying on, and these people poked their heads over the side and said, 'Oi, why Christianity, why not any other religion? Aren't they pretty much the same?'. He had one sentence: 'The difference between do, and done'.

In any other religion, it's what you have to -do- to earn forgiveness, heaven, eternity, nirvana, enlightenment, whatever the goal is. But with Christianity, our sins are already paid for, in the most shockingly, seemingly irrationally generous way possible.

Ok I'll continue this next time!!!

2 comments:

Joshi said...

Just a thought that those 'overzealous unthoughtful christians' do bring the gospel message to many people.

It's really a balance from their point of view of how forceful they are (I don't think handing out flyers in itself is very forceful, but nagging/forcing/etc. is probably going too far) and what kind of mood we're in (some people just don't like people who invade their privacy by giving them flyers, or they are in a hurry, or they aren't interested) which affects how we view these people.

I know a number of instances how God works through 'useless' flyers and chance meets through people who are brave enough to do walk up evangelism and public handouts.

I guess we just have to evaluate 'how' we are evangelising. Is it in a way which respects and loves people? Is our manner of evangelism glorifying God?

My 2 cents.

Katie said...

Ah. I should have clarified - definitely agreed that not all flyer-hander-outerers are like that. I've come across a few who have been delightful. But the majority I've come into contact with have been overwhelming, not letting you say no or get a word in edgewise, even to ask questions. I've been given a few flyers which have been really useful (the 2 ways to live one in particular I found really interesting), so nothing against them. Did I say they were useless?? I totally didn't mean to if I did... eep! I'm sorry that I was generalising here, and I should have explained more clearly what I meant! But just, it can seem a lot like any other advertising sometimes, and I don't find that helpful from an outsider's perspective on Christianity.

I suppose the point of this post was indeed the manner in which we evangelise, and sharing some things I've heard about that I think would be useful or at least interesting. Thanks for the hoik-up though, that could totally have been taken badly! :)