How to Evangelize in 2013

“We already know about Jesus. He’s his own dad and he died for my sins, because his getting crucified 2,000 years ago somehow has any connection to my checking out my neighbor’s wife’s ass.” SLAM.

“Thanks but no thanks for stopping by and trying to tell me some pathetic clichés I’ve already heard a thousand times because I live in America, Land of the Christ Salesman.” SLAM.

“I feel sorry for you. You think if you can convert me to your way of pretending to believe, that that will somehow get you into heaven? Man, sorry, but if you’re counting on me, you’re screwed. Good day.” SLAM.

It’s not working, Christians. Nobody’s listening to your reasoning and your boring snippets of theology and church talk. Nobody responds well to hearing that it’s basically their fault Christ died. Besides, nobody cares that much about Christ’s suffering in a world where chemical weapons are used on actual human beings in 2013.

Anyone can Google Jesus and learn all the facts. What people can’t do online is experience the Christ directly. Don’t try to inform people of things they have no interest in or that they already know. Give them an experience. Give them some unfiltered Christ. Let them feel the results first-hand. Maybe do it like this:

1. Put yourself in a humble, meek attitude. Pray and meditate for an hour. Go over your script.

2. Approach someone in a public, well populated place and assume an unassuming posture. Hands at your sides. Respect their personal space.

3. Say, “Excuse me, with respect, would you mind if I say a prayer for you?”

4. If the answer is no, just nod and close your eyes as a little bow of respect and move on. If the answer is yes, go on to Step 5.

5. Say, “My name is so-and-so. May I know your first name?” If they’d rather not say, that’s fine. If they tell you, extend a hand and say, “Nice to meet you.” Put your hand back down to your side. Maintain an unassuming posture.

6. Say, “So-and-so, is there anything in particular you’d like me to pray about? It can be a health issue, a personal issue, a relationship issue, anything. If there’s nothing in particular you’d like me to pray about, that’s fine.” Listen to the answer.

7. If they mention a health issue, say, “Okay. Would it be alright with you if I place my hands on your shoulder/head/whatever while I pray for you?” Obviously if they mention some problem linked to their personal parts, don’t offer this.

8. Say, “Okay, I’m going to pray for you now. I’ll be praying in the name of my god Jesus Christ.” Definitely use the phrase “my god”. Think lowercase “g”. Why? Because this way it doesn’t presume that they believe in Jesus Christ. If you were to say, “I’m going to pray for you in the name of Jesus,” that presumes that Jesus exists in the first place, as if he is a real person that both of you now have to believe in in order for this to continue. You’d be placing conditions on the prayer and healing you’re about to offer. Your job here is not to convert, not to convince, but simply to offer the light of Christ to another human being whom God loves. You can correct everyone’s thoughts at another time (such as never.)

9. If the person mentioned a health problem and gave you consent to place hands on them, do so carefully and gently. Then pray something like this: “Dear God, so-and-so and I stand before you today with respect in our hearts. We acknowledge the gifts of love and light and life that you have given us this day, and we are grateful for these good things. We just ask that you open our eyes and our ears to you, so that we can sense your presence and be filled with your kindness, mercy, love, forgiveness, freedom, and joy. We know you love everyone and all of creation without exception, but we just ask right now that you focus your infinite love and light on so-and-so. He could use your help in such-and-such regard. We ask that you restore so-and-so to full health at once, so that he can continue to live the life that you freely gave him in a manner befitting a being of divine and beautiful inspiration. We await your answer patiently and without expectation. Thank you for hearing our prayer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.” Tailor the prayer to whatever the person has told you, and use your own sincere words.

10. When the prayer is done, remove your hands if you placed them on their body. Don’t presume, but remain available if they want to hug or talk or ask you questions or tell you things. Otherwise, wish them a nice day, bow a little with your head and eyes, and move on.

This approach is superior to the usual way of barging in on someone’s conscious thoughts. You’re not here to disrupt a person’s life trajectory. God is going to do with them what he will; he opens the eyes of those who are ready. It’s not your job to save anyone. Jesus already did that, remember?

All this is just a suggestion. It skips all the theology and the extremely annoying jibbajabba Christian evangelists are unfortunately known for. This way is not presumptuous. It’s gentle, it’s respectful, it’s kind. Even if nothing changes in the person’s life, it was a goodhearted gesture, and that person might feel good that you reached out in a human way.

You might even accidentally heal someone. Better still, you might accidentally reveal to someone the awesome spiritual redemptive power of Jesus Christ.

This is all just a theory. I haven’t tried it yet. Ha! Bet you thought I was an expert. I’m just a guy who was brought to an awareness of the Christ by a guy who healed me in a somewhat similar fashion as described above. I added a few extra things to make it applicable in a general sense to strangers you meet. I’m just visualizing and throwing out ideas.

Hey man, we gotta start somewhere. Old school evangelism ain’t cutting it. Got any other methods you want to share?

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7 thoughts on “How to Evangelize in 2013

  1. Another thing that I like to do is to invite people to be the experts.

    So much of “evangelism” is predicated on the idea that the evangelist is the expert and the poor, wayward sinner is in need of their expertise.

    What if the good news (the literal meaning of the Greek word evangellion) is better expressed by asking for help instead of offering help?

    When Jesus sent out his people to share the good news he told them to ask for help (couch surf) as they went out.

    For me a large part of experiencing the Christ is being weak. It’s often easier for me to share the experience of the Christ by being weak and vulnerable to others.

    • I’ve noticed that about you in your actions, James. Attitudes like yours are some of the seeds planted in me that eventually ended up sprouting into my spiritual awakening. I’ll testify to the efficacy of that any day.

  2. You raise so many valid points that I find it difficult to choose a place at which to begin agreeing with you. So instead I’ll just answer the question you asked, namely, what were those people afraid of? I can answer the question as both a Christ follower and a person who has thought often about existential fear. And that is precisely the kind of fear I’ll bet those people experienced: existential fear. It’s the fear that begins in nightmares and rises to consciousness, polluting a person’s entire life with its destructive power. It’s the intangible fear, the nameless fear, that wears many masks: fear of debt, fear of loss, fear of bodily harm, fear of intimacy, every type of fear. It’s the one founding fear that feeds all other fears. People need a sense of safety, of peace, of security. One can get this from yoga or meditation, I suppose, although I never had much legitimate success with that. One can get it from temporary fixes like drugs, video games, sex, or some other evasive pastime, but of course the fear just springs back with a vengeance the moment the distraction is set down. For me, the only way fear ever became abolished was through my spiritual awakening. But fear was just one casualty of that experience. I also lost all of my longstanding shames, embarrassments, and other forms of existential angst. In their place I experienced peace and mercy and pureness. This sensation rises and falls, but the lows aren’t nearly so low as before, and the highs are less high. There’s something more stable about this new mindset, and I find it to be extremely comforting to mentally give myself over to God as I understand it.

    So the classic door-to-door evangelists are probably on to something. I know even from my pre-Christ experiences that whenever I was down and out and hopeless, and some evangelist would tell me Jesus loves me, I would often experience some small relief from the encounter. Comforting words are comforting words, even if they come from a religion one does not happen to believe in at the time. I suppose it’s good branding, as well: The more times people associate positive feelings with the Christ during times in which they otherwise would have felt quite negative, the more likely they will eventually embrace the Christ figure. It’s basic psychology.

    That said, as a Christ follower, I would like to believe that there is a good reason why so many Christian evangelists are attracted to the desperate. The Christ is well known for healing the sick, not the healthy. Of course, also as a Christ follower, I would be remiss if I did not assert that we are all, indeed, sick and in need of a spiritual Doctor.

    I hope that gave you some new insight as to your question; your own insights bespeak a very thoughtful person.

  3. Interresting. I agree, that actions speak louder than words and that being a good example is a better way to persuade anyone, than just telling them. I also agree, that the approach of some evangelists is a bit outdated. However, maybe it is the approach that roots out the people most eager to recieve the message. Because when a person slams a door at the evangelist, is it really dependant on the one reason that person gives as an answer?

    Most of the evangelists who have stopped by at my doorstep have had the approach, that they are obviously seeking for people in distress. Offering Jesus as a remedy to what ever problem I might have had. A couple of evangelists tried to sell me creationism in the guise of what they called common sense, but I bet those had far less success as people in my country are generally very well educated, hence they do not fall into, that silly approach.

    A while ago there was a big Lutheran church campaign to evangelize in my hometown. What I noticed about it, was that the push was very much for the people in some sort of trouble. A couple of the “mannequins” brought forth by the campaingn were talking about how after they found Jesus, they did not have to fear any more. I have been wondering what were they so affraid of in the first place. Do you have an insight as a Christian?

    Anyway, the reaching for the weak and troubled propably is seen by the evangelizers as an attempt to help, but to me it seems like preying on their woulnerable position. A position where they are not necessarily beyond secular help, but instead they are offered supernatural help, that might come, or not come. In my opinion people should be helped – period. And only offered world views, ideologies and religions only after they have reached the position of not being in such a desperate act as pleading to any supernatural, to whom they might attribute their luck being turned.

    Here in Finland one might not get good results by putting hands on the body of the other person, because we are a very private people (even though we often go to sauna naked whith family and friends regardless of gender). Touching a strange person here might be seen as very impolite. There are many cultures in the US even (the melting pot of nations), that might find this sort of approach a bit pushy at least.

    It seems to me that the most harvest any evangelizing of any religion gains is in cultures where there are people in desperate need of any help and preferably they have been indoctrinated to think supernatural is a valid method to explain reality. But bringing bibles to natural disaster victims is abusing the resources to actually help them.

    I like your approach, as it is honest and more like a gesture of goodwill, than proselytizing. I do not mind people praying for me, even though I do not think it will have any effect. At least it means these people hope I will not be in trouble.

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