Wednesday, May 8, 2019

An observation on evangelizing

I drink coffee with a gentleman named Duane. For the last few weeks all he has been able to talk about is a fellow coffee drinker who he finally managed to drag to church.

The fellow coffee drinker was baptized last month.

According to Duane, he had been attempting to get the fellow to go to his church, heck, to any church, for years.

Duane said that the single event that "tipped" the fellow into going to church for the first time was when his minister happened into the restaurant where they were both drinking coffee and very cordially greeted the wayward fellow.

How does that fit into the scheme of things?
Imagine you were shopping for a new dentist. It has more in common with going back to church than you might think.

You can almost always go one more day, one more week without visiting a dentist.

When you go to the dentist you are going into his domain. That entails a loss of autonomy and is a voluntary submission or loss of power for the dental patient.

The dentist is surrounded by acolytes who dress funny.

The dentist wears a uniform.

You can expect criticism, either implied or overt about your dental hygiene.

There is a viable expectation of pain as shortcomings of the past are dealt with.

While you can get "recommendations" the un-dentisted knows that there is a huge asymmetry of knowledge...can a patient really give a critical review of somebody practicing an arcane art like dentistry?

In retrospect, Duane made the tactical error of thinking that his testimony and witness would be enough to win-over the fellow coffee drinker.

While Christians like to think that the Holy Spirit is responsible for the conversion, it is wise to be mindful that the Holy Spirit is also responsible for the germination of seeds.  The farmer is responsible for preparing the seed bed. That includes studying the best, current science on how to kill weeds, fertilize and the best depth and time of year for planting those seeds.

If we are the farmers, then even the most cursory scientific examination of evangelization suggests that there is a progression of conversion.

The lost lamb looks at church-goers and thinks, "Hey, they look peaceful and happy. I want some of that."

The lost lamb asks some questions.


At some point the lost lamb will want to meet the dentist on neutral ground...NOT IN HIS OFFICE. That gives up too much power.

Ministers can support evangelization, in my very humble opinion, by getting out of their fortress office and eating in a casual restaurant like Subway or McDonalds one night a week. The meal should not be  dash in, gobble and blast off. It should be a leisurely hour.

Then, church-goers who are evangelizing will have a venue where Duane's 'tipping event' is programmed to happen.

Maybe there will be bad chemistry. Maybe the the conversion will not happen. But as farmers, we will have done all we could to prepare the seed-bed.


  1. My old preacher used to hit different restaurants a couple of times a week, just to get out and meet the people. :-)

    1. Sharp guy. Did he have a pattern or just go where the good Lord led him?