As a young believer, I used many types of what I would call “explosive evangelism”. This usually meant something like preaching on the street corner while holding a 10 foot wooden cross that we had fabricated the night before. Lots of yelling in King James English and trying to be Elijah or John the Baptist usually went along with this. A lot of people stopped eating for a moment as they gazed through restaurant windows, probably thinking someone was making a movie, pledging for a fraternity or we had lost a bet. There was one backslidden Christian who turned white when he saw us, most likely thinking that God had come to collect what was due, but we saw no other fruit except that we were pretty bold for Jesus. I guess it was also useful in helping me to start this blog.
The problem with using creative methods or just being obnoxious is that we often try to use external force or power to produce an internal transformation. We can end up competing with the world to out-entertain people; however, creative methods can be effective bridges of communication depending on the culture or people group. Still, the method should never become the message.
When we understand what needs to happen before a person can be saved, we can better tailor our methods to enhance that process.
- A person needs to understand their spiritual condition, and this is all about the Holy Spirit working in their hearts when we are “witnesses”.
- A person needs to come to a revelation that Jesus – as he is revealed in the Bible – is the only solution for their condition. This requires us to be effective communicators of the truth of God’s Word, but the revelation of Jesus ultimately comes from the Father. (Matt 16:17)
- Once we have done our part, which includes praying for that person, we need to trust that God actually knows how to do His part.
Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
We are not the Holy Spirit and no amount of external pressure, arguments or special effects will move on a person’s heart like Him. Knowing our simple role of being witnesses and sharers of this hope will take the stress out of witnessing and make it the adventure that it should be.
(When my wife read this she exclaimed, “I married a man who preached on the street with a giant cross?!”)