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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The People Jesus Misses (Jim Henderson)

I am reading Evangelism without Additives, a book about sharing Christian faith by pastor/author/thinker Jim Henderson.  I am not yet finished, but I am thoroughly intrigued by the 85% of the book I have read to this point.  I am going to share a few of my evangelism encounters over the years and after each encounter, I will give myself one of five grades (2 thumbs down, 1 thumb down, incomplete, 1 thumb up, 2 thumbs up).

(1) About 15 years ago, I spent time with my dad and a couple of his brothers on a vacation.  I was pretty convinced that one of my uncles on that trip gave lip service to Christianity, but his life involved minimal church attendance and Jesus had no presence in his life that I could see.  So after our vacation, we were all in back in our homes and I emailed my uncle.  My email was pretty direct with things like "without a relationship with Jesus, you aren't saved and are cut off from God."  I don't think I told him he was going to Hell.  That's never been my style.  But it was an in-your-face attempt through the safety of email. 
Grade - 2 thumbs down; I did not talk to him face-to-face, and I did not show concern for him or try to hear his perspectiv at all.

(2) Twenty years ago, in my first full-time ministry position, I was trying to encourage the teens in the church where I was the youth pastor to evangelize their friends.  I felt it unfair to ask them to do something I wouldn't.  So the next time my best buddy and I sat down for a little video game football, I said, "Hey, I want you to read something."  I talked him through a tract, a standard gospel tract that talked about going to Hell if one died apart from Jesus.  He said, "Oh, this is interesting."  And after I talked him through it, he read it again on his own.  The whole portion of the conversation took about 15 minutes.  Then, we went back to the computer football game.  My friend was not a regular in church and did not ever mention Jesus or faith.  After that day, our friendship continued and continued in conversations about sports and surface-level type stuff.  We never again discussed the gospel tract.
Grade - 1 thumb down; again, I did not ask his thoughts.  I tried to show something missing in him.  At least this was face-to-face and in the context of a relationship.

(3) Sometimes between 2002-2005, when I was a pastor in Virginia (1997-2006), we were doing a furniture give-away to the community.  A woman came for a coffee table and her daughter (23 years old), asked if we could give a Bible?  "Sure," I said.  In the ensuing conversation, she learned that we were in need of secretary.  I discerned from our conversation that she had not committed her life to Christ, but she was interested - a classic "seeker."  Our little church didn't attract many seekers like her.  I hired her as secretary.  I  know some members were appalled that an unbeliever was hired onto the church staff. But, I also knew it would afford me daily conversation with this young woman.  I told her when we hired her that church attendance would be a good idea for a church secretary.  She didn't have to attend our church.  However, my wife and I would be glad to give her a ride, and since she had some transportation problems, she gladly accepted our offer.  After about 10 months of typing newsletters with the pastor's articles, riding to church with the pastor and his wife, and being exposed to young people in our church who were passionate Christ-followers, she gave her life to Jesus.
Grade - 2 thumbs up; I give myself a good grade on this one not because it ended in her becoming a Christ follower, but in how we got there, in the context of real relationship that involved time, personal investment, and a lot of give and take.

Maybe as I go along, I'll write another blog like this one - grading my past evangelistic endeavors.

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