Two Primary Forces At Work
Conversational Evangelism Series: Part 3
Todd Hunter, Board Member and Consultant, Alpha USA, and noted speaker on evangelism and culture writes:
In the last couple of blogs we’ve been talking about conversational evangelism. In the past, two primary forces came together to produce an unquestionably effective form of evangelism that was based on proclamation first, and conversation second. These two forces at play have garnered us respect (and even demand) as experts in secular life and in the church.
Let's talk about those two forces a bit.
First, inherent in a modern, scientific worldview is a respect for, love of, and demand for experts. If something was wrong with our brakes we did not want the guy at the 7-11 fixing them, we wanted “The Midas Touch.” If we suddenly discovered a brain tumor, we did not want to go to Sears, we wanted – we demanded – an expert.
Second, in a vaguely “Christian” America, we had religious experts, too. They were accepted—even demanded. People expected someone to stand above them on a stage and dispense answers to their questions. Seekers were not about to go to Macy’s for religious information any more than we would go to Sears for brain surgery.
Our postmodern and post-Christendom world requires coming down from high platforms to sit incarnationally around a meal table to have a conversation. When people's deepest questions and concerns of life are listened to in the context of Christian hospitality offered through a nice meal, friendship, teaching, and a follow-up conversation, then you have the ancient and future formula for effective evangelism.
Recently I hosted a conference for Christian leaders called Conversational Evangelism. One of my co-teachers was Rebecca Pippert, the well-known author of Out of the Salt Shaker. Let me pass a few of her gems on to you. She said:
- We’ve made [modern] methods primary. Our challenge now is how we get evangelism out of sales and into relationship.
- In the eyes of seekers, our method needs to be as beautiful as the message itself.
- Why was Jesus such a powerful communicator? He asked questions and told stories.
- We preach sermons and give answers. But seekers want experience before explanation, story before sermon…
- Our job is not to be a sage on the stage…it’s a guide by the side.
That last line is pure gold coming from a rock-solid guide to evangelism.
I know of no better place to be a guide by the side than around an Alpha table, having dessert and conversation with honest seekers.