Acts 17:11 Archives

Evangelism Training Parable

A parable to get people to think clearly about what evangelism is all about: reality, not technique. By Dean and Laura VanDruff.

Imagine that you were a fan of Garth Brooks before he was a big international star. One day, while sitting in a hotel in Dallas, by strange twist of fate Garth and his wife Kathy come and sit down right across from you. Garth seems pleased to be recognized in a new city, and tells you: "I want to invite you to my concert tonight and give you and your friends free backstage passes."

After meeting Garth Brooks and finding him so friendly and generous, it might be reasonably expected that you would rush to a phone as quickly as possible and begin to call as many of your friends as you could to tell them of your good fortune.

Now suppose you called a friend and told them of the opportunity to meet Garth, and the response came back, "Very funny" and then came the "click" of a hang-up. Well, no time to waste, on to the next person. And what do you think, would you stop and develop five pre-fab points written up on a crib-sheet in order to "share" as you made your calls, or rather would you crudely and passionately call the next person and say, "I met Garth. He has invited us backstage to his concert tonight. Meet me at backdoor of the Pavilion at 7pm and I will introduce you to him!" instead? Now some of these friends might be busy, and some might not believe it was true and thus miss the opportunity, some might have a field they want to look at, some might have a father to bury, or some oxen to check out; but likely a few would come and really meet Garth.

This actually happened, by the way, in 1989; and Laura was one of the people called on the phone by her friend. She went and had a very nice time.

And so it is with true evangelism. It must come from really meeting God, from truly knowing Him. From this reality comes a jubilant and unbounded desire to share with others. Not all will believe us, and some might be too busy to be bothered, but if we have really encountered God than we can introduce a few others to Him as well.

Now, on the other hand, picture that someone extremely wicked called you and told you they had met Garth Brooks when they had not, and told you to come somewhere to meet him where he wasn't. Well, you would never trust THAT person again for playing such a cruel hoax on you. And this is what so much of "evangelism" is, it is a suite of techniques and training to make it seem as if we can introduce others to a God that in many cases the "pitchman" has not even really met, and a huge guilt trip to engage in such activity even though we know it is a fraud.

For if we have really experienced God, we might could use some training... but motivation will not be a problem. So if we lack motivation, this is a sure symptom that we are merely playing with religion and fantasies rather than having a real relationship with God.

Imagine it, someone claiming that they had met or knew someone that they really hadn't or didn't. Imagine them practicing to deceive via "training". Imagine you believe them and go to the backstage door in the alley as instructed, and you are left standing there all alone. Diabolical. And yet how many people have "been there, done that" with Christian "evangelism" of just this sort. Witnessing by people who are dropping God's name, but don't really know Him. Invitations to church meetings where God never showed. I am not sure that those who have rejected this sort of contrived "evangelism" have really rejected the Lord, they have just recoiled at phoniness of what has passed for "evangelism" in Christianity for so long.

Thus, the problem of evangelism is not getting people to do it, but rather a lack of spiritual reality. It is a problem of being able to deliver what is asserted: which is an ability to direct others into the presence of the living God in actual encounter.

If we wish to be evangelists, let us seek the Lord while He can be found. And once we know Him really, then we can introduce others to Him. Let us not be frauds if we do not have real access to Him, nor let us encourage hypocrisy in others, nor should we be lazy (an unlikely problem, really)--if we have met Him--to share our bounty with others.

Since the major problem is the lack of reality, evangelism training must start with an emphasis to know God for those who hope to be able to "lead others" to Him. We must know how to get there, and have gone ourselves. Anything else is a hideous fraud and sin. (Mt 23:15)

Eph 1:16-22 (Phi) This is my prayer; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the all-glorious father, will give you spiritual wisdom and the insight to know more of him; that you may receive that inner illumination of the spirit which will make you realize how great is the hope to which he is calling you--the magnificence and splendour of the inheritance promised to Christians--and how tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God. That power is the same divine energy which was demonstrated in Christ when he raised him from the dead.

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