Irresistible Evangelism – A Review by Nivea Schnizler
A few months ago I came across a book in the Holsby Reading Lounge (formerly the Library), called Irresistible Evangelism (Sjogren, Ping & Pollock; Group Publishing, 2003). I started reading the book with the intention of giving a short report about it to a friend, but as I read it, I got excited about the content and had the desire of sharing it with you.
What comes to your mind when you hear the word “evangelism”? Few people think of evangelism as something joyful and natural. Many see it as merely a Christian duty. But what if we would think of evangelism as “drawing people closer to the Father as we move toward him”? In my opinion, that definition destroys the pride and the burden that clings to the view of the saved trying to evangelize the lost, of the righteous trying to save the sinner.
WE ALL MOVE ALONG TOWARD GOD. WE ALL NEED HIM.
The authors even suggest that the word “evangelism” should be replaced by “discipleship”, because, after all, Jesus has commanded us to make disciples.
In order to bring people closer to God, it is necessary to see where a certain person is standing, what her or his “spiritual address” is. Everyone has a unique position in relationship to the kingdom of God: some are very close, others are far away. In our journey with someone toward the Father, loving acts and caring touches are essential to open that person’s heart. They must feel that they belong even before they believe (please note that all of this is supposed to be done out of a real love for people, love that comes from above).
We human beings have four major areas of need: the physical, the emotional, the directional and the spiritual, the latter being the deepest one. Each one of those areas will be touched by love shown through:
- Active kindness for physical needs: We show God’s love before we speak about it. Examples: baking a cake for your neighbor; helping a single mom with her kids/car/grocery; giving out tea or coffee in a cold winter day; helping your mom with the household (!).
- Active listening for emotional needs: We show Christ-like warmth, understanding and respect. It requires listening and friendship skills to enter another person’s world.
- Active wondering for directional needs: It is the question-asking skills that allow us to dialogue with someone about the direction her or his life is taking. Wondering questions show humility, i.e., that we do not have all the answers and we are interested in the other’s thoughts and feelings. Example: What dreams have you let go of? Who is the most impressive person you have ever met? As people get to know you, what do they enjoy the most about you?
- Active sharing for spiritual needs: Usually we focus on making people pray “the prayer.” We focus on the atonement done on the cross, but forget that the relationship to Jesus is a dynamic one, not only a ticket to heaven. People “need to see, hear, feel, taste, and touch convincing evidence that Jesus offers the kind of relationship they have been looking for” (pp. 149).
When bringing people closer to God, we should remember that our goal is not to sell anything to anyone; it is not to try to convince anyone of the truth of an idea (pp. 141). It is reaching people’s hearts as we care enough about them, sharing God’s kindness.
No, it is still not easy-peasy, but it is worth trying, in Him and through Him who lives in us. Isn’t it?