Moved Mountains

Banner - Mt Trio, Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia - (c) 2007

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Rapid Evangelism

You have 3 months to build a relationship with a "not-yet-Christian". In that time you must live, breath and exude the gospel in a secular setting (proximity space????), and by the end of that time the person will hopefully be closer to Christ (if not completely in the kingdom) than they were at the start. How would you go about it?

This is what I face everyday in my mission-field, and it is a huge struggle for me. While there is plenty of opportunity for relationship building and development I am not sure how to concentrate what otherwise can take years into a 3 month period (according to Hirch and Frost in the book I mentioned in my last post on average it takes a person 4 years to go from no interest or ambivilance to the gospel to becoming a believer).

There are always times when our window of opportunity is going to be narrow. A stranger on a bus or in a resturant (my wife had a wierd encounter in Maccas yesterday - I might talk about it later), a person with a terminal illness. How do we present the gospel to them incarnationally when our time frame is so incredibly short?

An old mate of mine, Dominic Steele from Christians in the Media, uses the "two ways to live" approach in his Introducing God postmodern evangelism course. He sees this as the basis for all gospel communication - and I agree. But I wonder how effective this kind of formulaic approach really is for rapid evangelism - for the kind of evangelism that can only take place in a moment or within the confines of a one off conversation with a person we may never meaningfully engage with again?

More questions! Sorry.


hamo said...

Probably one of the greatest learnings for me since changing modes of church & mission has been that while I can spend time with people and influence them (and them me) I can never do the work of the HS in their lives.

So now a 3 month window - or a 3 year window etc is a space to love, speak and live the gospel as fully as I can, but it is not a deadline for conversion.

While we speak of conversion as process we often still live it out as a split second event.

To be the 3rd piece in the jigsaw or the 256th rather than the final piece is not as satisfying (to me) but then that's probably more about my need to be successful than it is is about what God is doing!

I tend to think that asking someone to sit and listen to 'Introducing God' prematurely may not be an appropriate thing.

I desperately want to see people come to faith, but I am also concerned to work with God in it and not simply impose my own agenda & time frame.

The Creature said...

That has been my struggle, the need for an instant, varifiable result. "Turn or burn!"

But I am realising that it just isn't like that. One of my Bible College lecturers, David Michie, recounted his own conversion experience when I was in first year. He said that he couldn't put his finger on a day and a time that he "became" a Christian. He also said that many had questioned whether or not he was really saved because of this. But that made me realise, this was my experience.

There was no moment - it was a gradual process. I am thankful for David's testimony - it kind of set me free from feeling like I still had something left to achieve!

Still - I do wonder, when the three months is up and all manner of change has taken place in the lives of the people I work with, if there wasn't something more I should have done or said, but, as you rightly said, that's where I have to let the Holy Spirit do his work.

"So neither he who plants or he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth"