Sharing that Works
by: John O'Keefe
recently, i was posed with a very interesting question, "what method of evangelism works?" my very first, knee-jerk reaction is to say, "all methods work." but than, before i could open my mouth to speak, they qualified the question but saying, "let me rephrase that, which method do you think works best?" ok now, that changes thing and my answer, when they turned it into a more personal question, i could give a more personal answer. my answer was, "i think relationship sharing works over any form of evangelism today."
"hummm" they added, and i waited for a reply. then it came, and it was not the reply i was thinking. they added, "and what program do you use that teaches this 'relationship evangelism'?" well, my "wise ass" remark would have been, "life" but than i realized that i decided to stop being a wise ass [out loud anyway] and thought for a moment and said, "life" [that's when i figured out that the answer did not make it a "wise ass answer" it was the way i said it did]. then i added, "the only way to learn relationship sharing is to live a life connected with people - and mostly people not in the church. there is no "method" to how it is done, or "core principles," or "program" on how it is done. you just live, eat, laugh, cry, love and get angry with others."
they were not sure what all that meant and how it all connected, but there was hope - a glimmer of hope - a shining, light, bright in the soul glimmer of hope when they said, "could you explain the difference between standard evangelism and what you see as 'relationship sharing' [they actually did the classic "finger quote" thing that always speaks more then the question being asked]? well, pull down my pants and slap me with wet news paper [not in public], they opened the door for me to share with them what i thought, and i was going to take them up on the offer - but i soon found myself saying, "i would like to express more on what i think works, and not worry about what they are doing wrong." what? did i say that? did i say i did not desire to "compare and contrast?" man, this emerging thing is going deep. so, this is what i old them:
"in a relationship sharing reality my desire in getting to know you, is for you today. my desire is that i get to know you for you; not because you will come to my church or because i would have increased the kingdom by one. my desire to be your friend is simply to be your friend, and not because i might convince you to follow christ. now, would i desire you follow christ? sure, you bet. but if that is my motivation in becoming your friend, i have become your friend on pretenses other they just wanting to know you. to truly share, to truly live connected to another is the driving force of our faith. i share my faith, because i live my faith. my faith is my life, and people see it and want to know about it. people do not find christ because i can quote scripture, they find christ in me and in my daily struggles and walk in faith.
in this faith journey, in this faith walk, i seek to meet the needs of people today, their current needs and not the needs that might come after death. people are not worried about after they die, they want to live in christ while they are alive. the idea is not to be "future" but to be now. i love the way it is in "the message" when john, a student and friend of jesus said, "the Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. we saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish." that is how we need to be, we need to be "the flesh of the word in the neighborhood." if we are not, no amount of tracks, tapes, books, or cute little "jesus loves you" stuff will change anything.
one of the greatest joys in my life was watching a man move from questions, to being a follower. it had noting to do with magic words, secret formulas or special acts - it was just two guys talking and sharing life.
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