Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Some Just Never Get It

You post and you post. You explain it time and time again. But some just never get it. See, after yesterday's post about the E.R. episode, you'd think that maybe, just maybe, there would be someone going "aha! I understand now!" But noooooo!

We get comments submitted at the 'fly. We get all kinds of comments. Many of them don't get posted because they are of the baited "Let me ask you a question, you know it all..." type. Yeah, that'll get your comment posted in a hurry! In any event, we get comments and links to our articles that end up in the trash heap. One such submission today included a statement such as "I know that 99.9% of the emergents I know would tell someone in that position (the E.R. clip) that they need to trust in Jesus!"

My response? "Is that what it would take? -- Knowing that someone is about to die?"

See, the presumption continues. It goes on and on. And evangelism gets blown off in the name of "friendship".

Sorry, we don't have that luxury. See, the date on the right side of the grave marker is empty because we don't know when someone will die . . . do we?

But they never get it. All I'm hearing is "Well. . .this isn't fair because...well, if I knew someone was about to die, I'd tell them about trusting Jesus!". Trusting Jesus? (Side point, that's only half the gospel).

So, if you knew someone was about to die, you'd give them the gospel? Maybe the better question to ask is, "What if you don't know when any lost person you know will die?" And none of us know, do we?

Yup, the video was pretty pointed about those who can't present a clear message about a real hell and a real God who will bring down real judgment. And that describes much of the "Christian" landscape. And from the comments and other discussion out there, where people are saying "I'd tell 'em to trust Jesus", they never mention repentance, without which no one can be saved.

Let's imagine another scenario. Let's imagine you took days, months or years to do "Friendship Evangelism". Let's say you knew this guy in the E.R. clip. Let's say you weren't there in that room when his life ended. But you had the answer! Here he is, yelling at someone because they can't or won't give the answer, but you know it, have known it and didn't share it! Can't you hear him yelling at you from Hell?

"Why Didn't You Tell Me!!! Why Didn't You Tell Me!!! Why Didn't You Tell Me!!!"

Your response? "...i wanted to be your friend".

How lame! You call that "being a friend"???

See? It's not just about the bankruptcy of Emergent, Purpose Driven or the "Seeker" movement. It is about doing what God told us to do, and that is spread the pure Gospel because God said to spread the Gospel. To keep people out of hell? That's a good reason. But our real reason, first and foremost, is because it brings glory to God.

My friends, we walk alongside people everyday who are walking toward a cliff. They are going to fall off. The error is thinking we know where the edge of the cliff is for any individual. We don't! We do not have any luxury whatsoever to say "Hey, we've got time to build a friendship. . .I'll give the Gospel to you in a few years when I think you're ready for it".

Part of my work is in the health care profession. I help the elderly. Therefore, I sometimes have a general idea how long someone may have to live, and many is the time I've shared the Gospel with someone in such a scenario because that was the only chance I got. But even then, I never know. I'm telling you that you, my friend, do not know if that lost person next to you has five seconds, five minutes, five hours or five years to live!

So, if you saw someone on their deathbed you'd share the gospel with them then? Big Deal! I daresay you will rarely then, if ever, share the gospel with anyone! My challenge to you is to consider that the chair your friend is sitting in now may be their death chair!

Or do you know something the rest of us don't know?


pastorbrianculver said...

thanks for the post Tim. It is what I have been saying all along on my site. Until preachers start preaching the whole Word of God, the Whole Gospel message, they will continue to train up people to fail in the ministry of evangelism. It is very serious. Why must we all think we have all the time in the world to tell people the truth. It does not have to be about relationship and community. It has to be about doing the Lord's Work of reaching the lost. When I say "reaching" I am talking about telling them the truth of heaven and hell. It is those people, who dare not mention the word hell because they are worried it might offend someone, it is they who are doing damage to Christianity and have turned it into churchianity! I hope everyone will watch this video and consider that the dying man is talking to them. Maybe then, it will change some attitudes. I mean no sarcasm in that statement, I only want to see the lost come to repentance!

Billy Edwards said...

Repentance is fundamentally a change of mind - change of mind about your beliefs, your direction, your assumptions, your entire being. It's moving from self's way and sin's way to God's way, and it first happens in the mind. It's not first a change of actions but a change of thinking and believing that ultimately result in a change of actions.

That said, I don't think it's possible to genuinely "believe" Jesus without genuinely repenting. So, in effect, believing in Jesus is not simply half the story; it is the story.

Tim Brown said...

If one turns the steering wheel (the mind) the car is sure to follow.

Yes, to many, "sharing the Gospel" does mean an inclusion of the forsaking of sin and self.

But the real point of the post is "Share the Gospel faithfully, we don't know how long any person has to live".

Tim Brown said...


I did get your second comment. I appreciate the time you took to put it together.

However, as you know, it was off topic. What I will do is look it over and maybe make a post out of it, leaving your name off it. You didn't expect me to post the comment anyway.

Just wanted you to know I didn't just blow it off.

Tim Brown said...

So then Billy, it would appear that you agree that we should go out of our way to share the gospel (sin, repentance [turning from sin], and trusting in Christ) with those around us? That this is something we should do without having to take a lot of time to "build a friendship first"?

That was the core of this post. We can be friends with people but being friends means not gambling with their eternity but telling them what they need to hear *now* while they have the chance to hear it because we don't know when they will "go over the cliff".

Is my understanding correct?

Billy Edwards said...

Should we go out of our way to share the gospel? You betcha.

As for our acquaintances, coworkers, neighbors, friends, or others in our circle of influence, clearly we have an obligation to share. That's a given. It's sin to us not to share with those people.

But I'm guessing you don't mean those folks, but Person X. I believe we need to follow the Holy Spirit's promptings and leading. Does that mean a gospel presentation with everybody? Of course not. Many folks think we are looking for "gospel scalps", having no interest in them, only in us. Also, we need to share our testimony - what we know Jesus did for us, not just some canned gospel presentation. The essence of the word "witness" is to tell what we know. We need to listen to people. We'll earn the right to be heard.

I've been able to present the gospel with people I've never met, and I've done it with folks I've known a long time. The key, it seems to me, is me following the Holy Spirit.

Tim Brown said...

So, precisely, how do you know when the Holy Spirit is leading? Specifically, where do the Scriptures tell us what this is?

Billy Edwards said...

Well, I'm not really sure I know what you're asking. God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit in variety of ways - the Bible, prayer, the church, even cicumstances (sometimes). Jesus said that his sheep hear his voice and they know what he is saying. So I'm figuring that we will know when the Holy Spirit leads.

He lead Paul NOT to go certain places, but to go to others (Acts 16). Jesus told the disciples not to worry about what they would say, but that they would be given what to say (Matt. 10). In the same chapter, he told them that the Spirit would speak through them.

If this isn't what you asked, I'll try again, if you'd like.

Tim Brown said...

No No, that's ok.

You said we "earn the right to be heard".

Just how long would that take?

Billy Edwards said...

As long as a string.

It depends. If you feed a starving man, you "earn" pretty quickly. We rented a booth at our local fair and gave away an HDTV, Xbox, etc. People asked, "Why?" We said, "We are followers of Jesus. We serve him by blessing you." We "earned" quickly with some, "earned" nothing with others.

Again, it's as the Holy Spirit leads. It's kinda the woman at the well thing. You go with the conversation and the leading of the Spirit. Is the "leading of the Holy Spirit" the reason for the questions?

Tim Brown said...

I'm with you.

Let me ask you another question. Would you say it's safe to say that people like to talk about themselves?

Billy Edwards said...

Yeah. Almost always. Rare exceptions.

Tim Brown said...

So, you'd agree that people generally "warm up to your warmth", right?

Billy Edwards said...

Generally speaking, yes. I get the feeling the shoe is about to drop:)

Tim Brown said...

So, wouldn't you think that if you meet someone on the street and start a conversation about *them* then that should earn your "right to speak" fairly quickly?

Tim Brown said...

I've got to go for now, I get up at 5:30am. So any response you send won't appear till tomorrow.

See you then.

Billy Edwards said...

I think the issue is one of trust. Most people in this culture have their guard up toward church and religious people. They are either skeptical, dealing with the pain of being hurt by a church, or else they don't give church a thought one way or another. So if trust is not present, they either dismiss our words or get defensive and angry. Again, I'm speaking in generalities. Within a person in whom the Holy Spirit is working, that one's heart is fertile ground. Otherwise, it's not.

Because our culture is so distinctly humanistic, we're (the church) not on the level playing field we were 50 years ago.

Just watching and listening, it seems to be the greatest ways in which God is working right now are the marketplace (where relationships are already in place) and when believers serve and bless pre-Christians, with no strings attached.

Tim Brown said...

"So, wouldn't you think that if you meet someone on the street and start a conversation about *them* then that should earn your "right to speak" fairly quickly?"

Billy Edwards said...

Well, I thought I answered that question, but I'll be a bit more succint.

Probably not.

Again, the issue, it seems to me, is trust. If trust is developed - through genuiness, blessing, serving, however - then you've earned that right to speak. How quickly does that happen? It's situational. Sometimes, rather quickly, other times, not so.

Rhea said...

You make very good points in your post. If my neighbor's house were on fire at 2am, and I knew it, no one would chide me for going over there and banging on their door screaming bloody murder till they woke up. No one would blame me for "bother them at 2am" one would blame me for "causing a ruckus" one would DARE say something like "maybe they want to stay asleep," yet too many people do the very same thing when insulting me (or other Christians) for not going about witnessing the "friendship evangelism" way. No one would tell me that "it's rude" to bang on my neighbor's door at 2am while their house was on fire, even if I had never met them before. People would call me a hero...people would say that I was brave...yet all too often when Christians do the same thing with sharing the Gospel, we're considered rude (or even worse).

Such a double standard.

Tim Brown said...

Yesterday in your 5:39 post, you said:

"We need to listen to people. We'll earn the right to be heard"

Are you disagreeing with that?

Billy Edwards said...

No. Not at all. Why do you ask?

Tim Brown said...

Sorry, Billy, I had to go take care of a client of mine. The nature of my work demands I come and go frequently, so I'm not always here.

Anyway, You have me a bit confused. You're saying that to earn the right to speak, we have to listen, but you are also saying that listening to them and having them talk about themselves doesn't help?

Tim Brown said...

To the others who are leaving comments, rest assured I got them. I'll post them a bit later...

Billy Edwards said...

To me, the issue is trust. That can be developed quickly or slowly, as circumstances dictate. Listening is key to developing trust. Other things can develop trust as well (serving, etc.). Obviously, I'm not communicating too well...I've got a sermon that I'm working on that I'm not doing too well communicating either:)

But my point is that listening is a great way - but not the only way - to earn trust, which is the key to getting a genuine hearing.

Tim Brown said...

"But my point is that listening is a great way - but not the only way - to earn trust, which is the key to getting a genuine hearing."

But earlier you contradicted this....

Anyway, What do you think would happen if you approached someone you didn't previously know, asked them questions about themselves for five minutes (or maybe even less), chuckled together, and then said something like: "Hey, would you mind if I give you a quick quiz? Personally, I bombed on it, but I think you will like it".

After knowing the person for five minutes, listening to them answer your questions about themselves for that period of time, do you think this question would be a problem?

Billy Edwards said...

Well, I've reread what I wrote and I don't see where I contradicted that, but I'll let that go. It's kinda immaterial.

Honestly, I can see that working. They'll probably take the bait. But I've got a fundamental problem with "bait and switch". We have no real interest in a quiz or their answers. And they'll figure that out very soon. If you sense you need to share the gospel, just ask them if you can tell them your story. Why be deceptive about the thing? That's what gives most pre-Christians the heebie-jeebies about us believers.

I'm not arguing against segues into the gospel; I just think we ought to be upfront about our intentions.

I used to tell people I was a relationship coach when I met them, because I had seen the reaction of what "pastor" meant to them. But after I offended enough people when they found out the truth, I figured out that honesty works much better. Although, I now tell people I meet on the golf course (or wherever), in response to "What do you do?" I tell them, "I'll tell you, but the conversation will stop pretty fast."

Tim Brown said...

An aside: (the contradiction was:
"we listen to earn the right to speak" then later you said "probably not" when I asked if listening helps gain the right to speak).


"just ask them if you can tell them your story."

But remember, *they* are their own favorite subject. So, we keep the focus on *them*. Let *them* talk about *themselves*. Personally, if I want to see someone's eyes glaze over, I tell them I want to talk about *me* or *my story*. *I* am not their favorite subject.

Question: Why would this person have the "heebie-jeebies" about me when I haven't even mentioned Christianity yet?

Billy Edwards said...

In your 8:46 post on 2/20, you asked if you would earn the right to speak by listening "fairly quickly". That's what I replied "Probably not" to on my 10:19 post of 2/21.

Anywho, I've got two more counseling sessions and a hospital visit. I'll reply tonight or tomorrow. Probably the latter.

Tim Brown said...

Thanks for the clarification.

Funny you should think that way. It was maybe two hours ago or less that I called my Schwann's delivery person. I did so because I didn't have an order ready.

Mind you, I had only met her two days ago, and here I am calling her and she said "That's ok, my doctor said I should stay home anyway because of a health issue".

I asked her "May I ask what is wrong"?

She wasn't offended, even when I asked her a "personal" question such as that.

Sounds like *trust* to me...

Billy Edwards said...

Your original question was about a guy on the street. Your Schwann's lady isn't some Sue on the street, even if you have only known her for 2 days. There's a basis for a relationship - business. I said earlier God seems to be working big-time in the marketplace.

And of course that's trust! You cared - genuinely. She believed you cared. That's the basis of trust. As I've tried to make clear in this thread several times (8:28am comment on 2.20; 10:19am comment on 2.21; 1:49pm comment on 2.21) - trust MAY be earned very quickly - or it may take time. You were sensitive and she responded appropriately.

You are well on your way to sharing the gospel with her, which is the point, right? So...and I don't mean this to offend...but what's your point?

Tim Brown said...

Thank you, Rhea.

What the main problem is, is this tendency for many to get worried about "offending" people. Our society places a premium on being politically correct and therefore non-offensive. Professing Christians have bought into this.

Personally, I have never had anyone be offended when I talk to them. Their body language is all positive. They look me in the eye and act interested. I don't know where this fear of "not getting an honest hearing" comes from.

I have had one person walk away from me, and that was after I asked them if they thought they'd go to heaven or hell. But I could see the conviction written on the person's face...they didn't want to deal with it...and Jesus said that people will be offended by the Gospel. The message is foolishness to those who are perishing. Always has been, always will be.

The point of contention is, of course, "just how long do you have to wait to share the Gospel". The correct answer is, "as little as possible".

As I just mentioned in my comment about the Schwann's delivery woman, you could tell there was *trust* don't share health issues of her kind with someone you don't trust.

You can bet that when she comes back I'll be sharing the gospel with her. Trust is there, it's a matter of having the time to do it. She didn't have it when I was on the phone with her. I can't control that.

But that is a prime example of how quickly trust can be built.

You go to your doctor. Let's say it's a new doctor. You've never seen him before. You take a test. He says it's something nasty. You don't say "I don't trust you, I don't know you". That would be silly! Why would you have gone to him in the first place?

I know, that's an example of you going to someone and not what we have been discussing, but it is about trust. You wouldn't tell your doctor "You haven't built my trust yet!"

If we are really, really concerned about people being saved, we will look for opportunities to share the message. Not the message about us ("My Story") but the message of sin, repentance and faith in Christ. We will be looking for ways and opportunities to do it, not ways and reasons to put it off.

You used a great analogy. We are firemen and firewomen. And how many of us would say "Hey, I really want to convince you you can trust me so I can get you to safety". But somehow, probably because we don't immediately sense the reality of Hell, we get casual about their condition. 150,000 die every day, and we want to play games.

That is what this is all about.

You know the only people I see and hear objecting to what I do? People who call themselves Christians. I've had lost people thank me for giving them the gospel. They have gone out of their way to thank me for telling them what they need to hear. No one has ever said anything like how dare you ask me that or you have no right to ask that.

Not once.

"earn the right to speak"? I'm not arguing against that. "Getting trust"? I agree with that. But it only takes a few minutes.

And that is precisely my point.

Tim Brown said...


And I do the same with people I meet at McDonald's and elsewhere that I haven't seen before...and it works!

I do this meeting people when I walk my dog, and it works. Is that a "you both stand on a sidewalk" excuse?

No. Of course not.

Do you have an explanation for them as well?

I'm starting to think you are just *wanting* this to not work.

But it does!

pastorbrianculver said...

it definitely does work.

I have met so many people in the past year, it is really exciting. I am normally a shy, somewhat introvert, but when it comes to sharing the gospel with someone, I am not bashful at all.

Let me give you a few examples...
a girl at college -- she was in the hallway and I was there too, she said, "hi" and I said "hi" back to her. We talked about the cold winter we were having. I told her I used to live in Arizona and would love to be there right about now! She asked why I came back here. I told her to be closer to my son and his family! I also told her I was a pastor. She asked me what faith. I told her and she said she was a methodist. So, I asked her if she went to one of the churches here in town. She said she had not been to church in over three years! I kind of gave her that fatherly look of "come on now, you know you should be in church." She agreed. I asked her, "so you are saved and going to heaven?" She said yes. I then asked her if she considered herself to be a good person. We had a great conversation and it ended with her realizing the need to repent of her sins. She was still living in her sins. She thanked me for talking to her. She said she was going to go to church with her parents when she went home that weekend. don't know if she went or not, but at least she heard the gospel and the call for repentance.

several older women at McDonald's -- they were all sitting and talking and I was at another table reading my Bible and writing down some notes. They noticed my Bible and I could hear someone at the table talk about my Bible. So, when I got up to get a refill of my pop (or cola or soda, depending on what part of the country you are in!), I stopped by their table. I asked them if I could give them an intelligence test. I told them they could all help each other out so they agreed to do it! After the second question, they were all laughing and enjoying themselves. I got down to the question about How many of the Ten Commandments can you name? With five women, they could only do about 5 or 6 of them. I then asked them if they felt they had done a good job of keeping the Commandments. We went through the Law of God and by the end of it, they had heard the call to repentance and the need to put their faith and trust in Jesus alone for their salvation. They had a great time and asked for copies of the intelligence test.

one more,
a co-worker -- this man uses God's name in vain each and every day. He cusses and has terrible work ethics. He makes fun of me because he see's me reading my Bible every day during our breaks in the office. I asked him where he thought he would go when he died (we had a person die recently at work so this was a natural question to ask him.) He said he would go to heaven. I asked him what he based that belief on and he said he believed in God. I told him that even the Devil believes and trembles, so what makes him any different? He couldn't answer. I then told him it was more than just saying you had to "believe" in Jesus. It was about being obedient to His Words. Putting your faith and trust in him and being born again. Putting off the old nature and putting on the new nature. I then asked him if he would consider himself to be a good person. From there I was able to present God's Law to him. He had never heard of the need to repent of his sins before. I can see a difference in him today, now instead of saying sh*t, he just says, oh pooh. It's a beginning. He knows there must be change and he knows that without repentance he is headed for hell.

In all the times I have witnessed to someone, I have only had one person who even acted offended. And just because he acted offended, still is not a bad thing. Because I know that God's Word will not return void! I don't save people, that is God's job!

it is in the tone of your voice and in the look in your eyes that people can learn to trust you. When they see that you sincerely are worried about them, they respect that. I don't worry about being friends with any of them, because to be honest, I will most likely never see any of them again (except my coworker!). But in the short amount of time that I had to talk to them, they have left knowing what they need to do to be right with God. And with that, I leave it in God's hands!

Tim Brown said...


Tim Brown said...


Let's arrange to go out and do a video or two. The weather is warming up in a few days.

Let's do some cold evangelism and film it. I can post it here.

Are you game?

pastorbrianculver said...

I would say I am "monopoly" but that is no good, I could say I am "operation" but my funny bone is hard to get out sometimes, how about if I say I am "Old Maid?" No, that doesn't work. Let's see, I could be "Chutes and Ladders" yeah, that's it. Chutes is like putting your trust in Jesus to save you and the ladders is like our climb to heaven on that glorious day!!

in answer to your question, YES, let's do some witnessing. Pray for warmer weather and no snow!!

Billy Edwards said...

You said, "'earn the right to speak'? I'm not arguing against that. 'Getting trust'? I agree with that. But it only takes a few minutes.
And that is precisely my point."

As I have stated 4 times previously, I am convinced trust CAN occur quickly. Can we please put that one to rest?

If you guys are looking for me to disagree, you're not going to get it here. I do agree. I've seen God do the things Brian describes.

If you're looking for me to buy into the fact that trust is not necessary, I won't. If all it was was a matter of sharing the gospel because "the building is burning", why didn't you share with the Schwann's woman immediately? And why don't we buttonhole every person we encounter?

My big points: trust is necessary. And bait and switch is disingenuous to the gospel message.

And "my story" does include repentance and faith.

So where is our disagreement?

Billy Edwards said...

Sorry, missed your comment about the video. I'll watch it.
I'm not worried about offending people, BTW.

Billy Edwards said...

OK, I watched. What did I see? Nobody offended (which I never claimed to be an issue - the gospel is by nature offensive), nobody invited to Christ, and nobody visibly affected. Will they be? Sure hope so. But they were on camera. How did that affect their response?

Tim Brown said...

"why didn't you share with the Schwann's woman immediately?"

I already addressed that in my post to Rhea.

As far as baiting, was Jesus guilty of being disingenuous and "baiting" when he asked the woman at the well for a drink of water?

Tim Brown said...

Ok, let's try to answer that.

Recall the Parable of the sower. What did the sower do?

Tim Brown said...

Just to clarify, my last comment in reference to the Parable was in response to your post about the video...

Billy Edwards said...

Call me crazy, but I'm figuring after a morning walk on a hot, dusty road, Jesus was REALLY thirsty. And...are you arguing FOR deception in our witness? I know that you are not.

Thanks for the civility. I got off to a bad start with you when I was cynical, critical, and condescending (how 'bout that for alliteration?). I'm checking out for the evening. I'll check your blog tomorrow.

Tim Brown said...

Of course He was thirsty! But he also used it to swing from the natural to the spiritual.

Again, relative to the video, what do you see the Sower doing?

Tim Brown said...

*Thanks for the civility. I got off to a bad start with you when I was cynical, critical, and condescending (how 'bout that for alliteration?).*

Thank you for being forthright about that.

Tim Brown said...


Cute. But you really need to get past that nail biting thing...

Tim Brown said...

(. . .pssssssttt. . .be vewy vewy quiet!. . .)

(evidently Billy is still out and either unable or unwilling to answer my question about how Jesus used “water” to transition to the spiritual realm in John 4...or maybe he's out offering small appliances to people so later he can switch from the bait of HDTVs and Xboxes to the gospel. Who knows? At least he said he thought the video of Todd Friel doing WOTM was ok, even if he also said he doesn't like canned evangelism...go figure. Anyway, regardless of what he is doing, he's had sufficient time to respond to this, and he has been by a few times according to our blog records. . .browsing other posts and ignoring this one. It would seem that he's chosen to be a bit rude by plain ignoring my last question to him. At least he could have said “let me think about that, I'll be back”. Since I'm posting this when I am, perhaps it'll give him some food for thought as he walks behind his pulpit today and acts all pastoral and all.)

Evangelism 101

So, for everyone else reading this thread, let's go into a little more depth about what Jesus did in John 4 and perhaps look at a few more passages as we tie up a few loose ends.

See, Jesus approached the woman at the well and began in the natural realm. As Billy said, of course he was probably thirsty...and yes, that is pretty obvious. But he used things in the natural realm to switch to the spiritual. He then revealed her sin to her – she was living with a man after all her failed marriages...the implication being that her past divorces weren't for the right reason.

So, what do we do? Well, we don't know what is in a person's past like Jesus did, but we can do something that is very simple and very similar. We'll use the ten commandments, which will reveal their sin to them. Remember, the scriptures are living, active and powerful and able to cut, according to Hebrews!

You say you're at the mall? You say there's this big 'ol bench that someone is sitting on and lots of room left? Say you wanna sit down anyway? Well, sit on the silly bench!

Next, say “hello”. Not hard. Very few people have ever been arrested, beaten or abused for simply saying “hello”.

Next, you can do a little small talk. Ask the person about their favorite subject, themselves. I've done this and hardly ever gotten arrested...well, actually, I never have gotten arrested. For evangelism. Or anything else for that matter.

What are you doing? You're starting in the natural realm, just like Jesus did. But that's not all Jesus did.

The next thing you do is switch to the spiritual realm. How, you ask? Simple. You ask another question. What kind of question? Why, one having to do with church or some similar subject! You can ask “Do you know of any good churches around here?” or “Did you go to church?” or “Do you have a religious background?” and again, because you are asking about themselves, they will not take offense. This is simple small talk.

So, what now? Well, let me ask a simple question: Did they respond in in a positive way? Did they respond in a neutral way? Did they respond in a negative way? Let's keep it simple for now; if they didn't get all mad at you (won't happen) then you probably can then offer them a good gospel tract. Living Waters has great ones that, regardless of what everyone who hates WOTM says, people ask for more. No one says “Ugh! I hate this!” Never. Not once. I've even left them out on tables at a local community college and the kids look at them, then put them in their book bags.

So, offer them one! Yes, offer them one!. . .and say something like “Hey, here's something I think you will like. It's a million dollar bill with the gospel on it.”

I've had people say they love them and ask for more to give to their friends.

Any problems so far? No! Not at all!

You don't have to immediately mention sin and judgment. there are still baby steps you can take. For example you can simply ask “How many of the ten commandments do you think you can give me?” Again, this is still about them. They are showing their knowledge, no matter how small it is. But you are asking them questions!

After that, you then ask something like “do you think you've kept the ten commandments”. Whether they say “yes” or “no”, you are well on your way now. Maybe next, ask them “have you ever told a lie?, I mean who hasn't”? If they say “yes”, then ask “What would that make you”. Remember, you are asking them to point the finger at themselves. You aren't looking down your nose at them. You aren't pointing a finger at them. Their own conscience will do that.

They may try to skirt the question by saying “that would make me a sinner”. You want them to say “liar”. Just say “If I told you a lie, what would you call me?”. It will be easier for them to make the connection.

Do that with the eighth commandment (do not steal) and a few others. If they say “at least I haven't killed anyone”, remind them of what Jesus said about hating someone being the same as murder.

See? We've broken them all. Admit freely to them that you found yourself in the same position too.

Recount what they have said about themselves. You can say “By your own admission, you are a liar, a thief and a murderer at heart and that is only three of the ten commandments!”

After that step, ask them if they expect to go to heaven or hell based on their own admission. If they say “heaven”, ask them why. As breakers of the commandments, they stand guilty before God. If they say “Hell”, ask them if that bothers them. If they say “yes”, you really can tell you have some fertile soil. Plant the seed.

To plant the seed, ask them if they know what God did so they won't have to go to hell. They may say “Jesus Died for me”. Not a surprise. Contemporary evangelism tells that half of the story but they don't say WHY He had to die – to pay for our sin.

After that, it's a matter of telling them of repentance (turning from sin) and trusting in what Christ did, trusting in Him as you would a parachute to save you.

That's it! Not hard. And as I mentioned somewhere else, the only people who seem offended by this are those in the church growth movement, PDL or something else. They scream about this although the lost don't. They listen. And even if they don't respond as you wish, you have planted the seed of the gospel. You have been the “sower” in the parable of the sower. He tossed seeds everywhere. he didn't stop and wait to see the crop grow. He just planted seeds.

But it isn't just what Jesus did with the woman at the well. It's what Jesus did in other places. Take, for example, the incident where the rich man came to Jesus and said “Good Teacher...what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Wow! What an opportunity! If that were to happen to many today, many would say “Hey, all you have to do is trust Jesus!” with maybe a few added comments.

Did Jesus do that? No.

Just as He did with the woman at the well, he brought him to a knowledge of sin. How did he do it? He asked them “Why do you call Me good? There is only one who is good, and that is God.” Then he pointed at the commandments. After the man justified himself by misunderstanding the point of the commandments, Jesus told him to “Go, sell all you have, give the money to the poor and come follow me”.

Why? To show this man that he was unwilling to give everything up and put God first. And thus, he is guilty of idolatry and wasn't putting God first, which means he was breaking the first and second commandments. And if you are not willing to give up your idolatry, you cannot be saved.

So what happened? The man walked of sad. And Jesus let him. Jesus had used the law to show the man that he really wasn't “a good person” after all. In fact, he didn't understand what it mean to be “good” before God in the first place!

Then, of course, Jesus was guilty of a “bait and switch” in John 6. He fed the 5000, not just because they were hungry, but also as an authentication of Himself and his ministry. What happened? Well, later, the scriptures tell us that many came back to him wanting more bread. What would contemporary Christianity do? Why, we'd be throwing more bread at him along with a cafe' latte and whatever other things we could find!

What Did Jesus Do?

He rebuked them. Yup. He rebuked them. He rebuked them for chasing after physical bread instead of the spiritual bread He was offering.

So, (for Billy) was Jesus wrong? Or are we doing it wrong? Be honest!

Bait and switch? Call it that if you like. But Jesus used food to authenticate himself to those who would believe and reveal the ones who would not. To some, it certainly was a change of “bait” because He had to warn them that they were only there for their “felt needs”.

Our friend Billy wants to try to minimize or eliminate the validity of how we evangelize by accusing us of “baiting and switching”. Well, he can do that if he likes. But then you must wonder why he gives out small appliances as he clearly said he did....but then he doesn't give them the gospel either. It's still “baiting and switching”; he just waits much longer to give them the gospel (if he gives it to them at all). So he “baits” them, but puts off the “switch” part. In the meantime, you must ask “What happens if these people die tonight or tomorrow. What good is an HDTV going to be to them if they are in Hell”?

This is not evangelism, it's Want to give someone a TV set? Fine! but give them the Gospel.

Uhm, if I can do it with a tract and a few minutes of someone's time, why can't you do it with a TV set?

Many say “Well, don't you ask them to pray the prayer?” or “Invite them to Jesus”? Maybe. but then there is nothing in the Bible about having to pray a prayer. We aren't saved by saying words. It's a transaction of the heart. It's also not about “inviting them to Jesus”, it's about conviction of sin and showing them the need for forgiveness and the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. An “invitation” is for a party. What we need to offer is the cure for a death sentence.

And about “getting them to pray the prayer”; if you have been caught in adultery and really feel sorry, do I need to help you recite words to your wife? No, that would be an insult if you did that. Consider the following example:

“Repeat after me: Dear wife”
(“Dear wife”)
“I have committed adultery against you”
(“I have committed adultery against you”)
“I am sorry”
(“I am sorry”)
“I'll never do it again”
(“I'll never do it again”)
“please forgive me”.
(“please forgive me”.)

No. that wouldn't be very sincere at all. It would be an insult! But if the heart is broken, they will know what to say!

End of Evangelism 101.

Billy? Again, I do appreciate the fact that you acknowledged the fact that you have been rude here before. And I'm not upset that you didn't apologize. I never asked you to. But do you think that someone with the kind of problem you described should really be spending two days in a thread under the pretense of giving instruction about “gaining trust”?

Your words betray you. You argue against “canned evangelism” while approving (with few reservations) of a video of it! You argue against “baiting and switching” while you do it yourself! Sooner or later you have to quit handing out the appliances and say “You know, you really need Jesus!”

No, I don't trust you. And I don't think you have any credibility to teach about the subject of “gaining trust”. As far as I'm concerned, this was your second attempt at trolling this blog. And this time the door will be shut against you just a bit tighter than the last time you were here.

If you so choose, stop coming to my blog. Given your distaste for my views on Rick Warren and your statement that I'll never change (and I won't), frankly I wonder why you bother coming here in the first place. When I see a blog where I disagree with things, I leave them alone. I don't waste my time with childish games. Stop wasting your time trolling and try spending more of it on preparing expository sermons! As a pastor, Ephesians 4 says you are to equip the saints so they can do the work of the ministry. In effect, you are to try to “work yourself out of a job”. That is your job!

I leave you with these thoughts. Again, maybe you'll think about them before you preach to your congregation this morning.