Have you ever had a great idea, but never tried it?
Or have you ever poo-pooed someone else’s idea, only to watch it work brilliantly?
If so, read on…
When Jesus gave us the mandate to “Go and preach the gospel to every creature”, he didn’t give us a specific formula, or a one-size-fits-all approach.
He simply said to “GO”.
The fact is that there are about 6 billion unsaved people out there, from all sorts of backgrounds, cultures, and religions. All of them need to be met where they are at, not where we think they are, or where we think they ought to be.
That being said, it comes as no surprise when we find that there are many styles of evangelism and missions. The gospel is always the same, but how we connect to people is not.
Paul said he became all things to all men, that by any means he might save some.
I think God is pleased when we get creative in our strategies in how we relate to and reach
For example, one time on an outreach in Waikiki, a student named Jess said she was going to try “Selfie evangelism.” I looked at her a bit sideways and asked, “What is selfie evangelism?”
She said she was going to approach strangers and ask if they want to take a selfie together and then start sharing the gospel with them.
I was sure this was going to fail. When the team arrived in Waikiki, Jess immediately approached the first three guys that were standing on the corner. They said yes to the selfie! I purposely fidgeted with the camera for a while to give Jess a chance to bring up spiritual things. After about 45 minutes of talking about the gospel, two of them gave their lives to Jesus on the spot!
I learned a valuable lesson that night: Don’t criticize someone else’s methods.
God can use any means he wants to.
Well, apparently the Lord had to re-inforce the lesson to me. A few months later, another guy named Jason had a different idea. He said he was going to do Pokemon evangelism. Curious, I asked what his plan was.
He went down to Waikiki with the Pokemon game and found a great character, then waited for someone else to come along looking for it. Then he started a conversation about Pokemon and led into the gospel. Jason shared Christ with 5 different people in an hour and a half.
Not long after that, Beth and I were on a date and there was a group of four college-age people that seemed to be following us around. I stopped and asked what was up and it turns out they were looking for Pokemons. I told them about Jason and Pokemon evangelism, using it as an opportunity to share the whole gospel with four nonchristian young people.
So there I was using Pokemon evangelism, which I thought was a dumb idea!
The point is, we should cultivate creativity and be willing to release people with the ideas they have.
Trying new things isn’t without its failures. Failure will inevitably happen.
One night we had a team out sharing Christ in Rovaniemi Finland. One of the staff named Samuel asked if I have ever tried the “Jesus is the heavenly bridegroom, you are the bride” style evangelism. That is where you highlight the perfect love of Christ to someone.
I said, “No, but maybe you should try it, “ and pointed to a group of four young women seated near us.
To Samuel’s credit, he was willing to give it a go. His approach was just a bit off.
He walked over to them, leaned on their table with one arm, and asked, “So, are you looking for love in your life?”
They erupted in shocked laughter and hid their faces in their hands. He tried to recover by asking, “Do you want to know the answer? It’s Jesus!”
They looked up at him and simply begged, “We just want to be left alone,” and snickered as he walked back to our table.
That goes down as one of my favorite funny evangelism stories.
Sometimes we fail, but sometimes we strike gold.
God loves to show us new ways of doing things. We should be open to discover what he might want to do next!
A few weeks ago one of our students named Natalia suggested we go to the cemetery for evangelism. “What!”, I thought. On the inside, I was reeling. Who ever heard of doing evangelism in the cemetery?
But experience has taught me not to poo-poo an idea. On the outside, I lit up like a light bulb and asked her to tell me more.
Well, Nov 5 is the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico. Millions of people worldwide observe this day. For some, its just a day of honoring and remembering their loved ones. For others, its a mystical day when they believe their lost loved ones will come visit them.
On the Day of the Dead, cemeteries are full of people coming to show respect to their families.
The team went out to the cemetery for evangelism on the Day of the Dead, and I can’t even explain how many people were so grateful and moved that someone took the time to hear their story, pray for them, and share the love of God with them. People were being prayed for and coming to Christ in the cemetery of all places!
Maybe you’ve been sitting on an idea of how you could reach a community, or a demographic of people.
You never know what the Lord may do.
Every evangelism tool and missions strategy out there was once just an idea that someone put to practice.
You are a unique expression of God’s light to the world. And I believe the Lord wants to use the gifts, talents, and ideas He’s placed within you to reach people with his love.
I pray you muster up the courage to develop a plan and then, do it!