Give Yourself to Others …

Posts Tagged ‘evangelism

Most are deluded with the idea we can say something to another person, which will cause that person to change their mind about a particular topic.  We think we can persuade others to think like us.

I repeat — that is a delusion.

Now, granted, sometimes we do say things and then, coincidentally, other people changing their view of things.  But even when that happens, it’s not because of us, it’s because of them!

People are free-will individuals.  They get to make up their own minds.  They get to make their own choices.  They get to set their own priorities.  They get to decide what is important and what is not.  They choose what they believe.

People are neither good or bad, just because they disagree with us.  They are just different, and that is their choice.

What we can do is inspire or motivate others to act on what they already believe.

I spent much of my career in the direct mail fundraising business. Fortunately, for me, early on, I learned this:  It’s not about persuading people to agree with me, it’s about finding people who already agree and motivating them to act on what they believe.

An example:  Most political campaign communications are not about changing Rs to Ds or Ds to Rs.  It’s about convincing your opposing voters their cause is lost and there is no point in voting; and, at the same time, inspiring your supporting voters, theirs is the winning side and they should “get on the bandwagon” to victory.

In matters of commerce, you’ll never convince someone to buy your product or service, unless they already believe they have the “problem” your product or service resolves.

People do change their minds all the time.  But those changes are unpredictable and are caused by far more factors and considerations than what little anyone of us may contribute to them.

So, speak out about what you believe.  Believe what you say.  But let everyone else do the same.

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The reality is that, for most people, that’s not a very exciting invitation.  (I struggled a little with what adjective to put in front of invitation).

The reason, in my view, is the connotation surrounding “church.”  Many theological people are typically quick to point out that the “church” is truly made up of Christians.  And I acknowledge that fact.

However, also true is that the word, church, comes from the German word, kirche, which refers to the cathedral, not the people.  And in everyday usage, church more often refers to the building or facility, than to the people who gather there.  It also often refers to the organization more often than to a generic gathering of people.

So, when you say, “come to church with me”, what does your audience really hear?

It seems to me most likely they are hearing you invite them to an organizational meeting, which you hope they will join.

Perhaps we would be better off, if we invited people to “come worship with me.”

I don’t think there is a doctrinally-based message that draws people to Jesus.

We cannot convince people to follow him.  We cannot persuade them.  People must seek to know about Jesus.  When they seek him … then we can help them to find him.

I’m sure this has been different at other times.  And it may be different in other countries … a friend who lives in China, tells me it is different there.

But I noticed this phenomenon in the work my wife and I do with marriages.

We have noticed marriages that need help, but have learned thru experience, we cannot help until people come to us.  If we go to them, we have no credibility.  We have no stature to share anything.

But if a couple comes to us for help with their marriage, there is a lot we can say.  We can say it much more directly … more pointedly … and sometimes even more toughly.  Because the couple has come to us and asked.

The weakness of the gospel message in the United States is that everyone thinks they’ve heard it before and knows what it is.  So, until our lives provide evidence … radical evidence … of something that is out of the ordinary … until people are so moved by watching us that they come to us saying, “You are really out of the ordinary … please explain!”

Not until they come to us can we tell them about Jesus.

So, what are the words necessary for evangelism?

Hey, tell me why you’re so different from everyone else I know?


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