photo © 2011 ideacreamanuela2 | more info (via: Wylio)A few summers ago I had a job selling shoes at an under-staffed (and overpriced) department store. The only good thing about the job was it was right across the street from Subway. One evening I was walking to Subway to get some dinner when a man with sunglasses and a cheesy smile came up to me. He looked like he was trying way too hard to be Tom Cruise in Risky Business.
“Hey there buddy,” he said as he enthusiastically stuck his hand out, “I’m Steve. What’s your name?”
“Uh, Travis?” I responded.
“Awesome! So, what’s up, man?”
"Well, I’m just on my break from work.”
“That’s rad! Where do you work at, bro?” I pointed to the department store. “Do you like it there?” Steve asked.
“It’s alright,” I replied. “I mean it, like, pays the bills and stuff.”
“Well, buddy, I was like you once. I was at a dead-end job where I wasn’t getting paid anything. But then a friend told me about Network Market, and now I’m making more money than I ever dreamed of. We’re having a job fair at Holiday Inn next Saturday, and I’d love to see you there.”
“What kind of job is it?”
“It’s a network of markets. There’s the future, bro! Here, take my card.”
“Um, okay. I’ll think about it.”
“Hey, man, don’t think about it—do it! This is your opportunity. See you there!”
Needless to say, I didn’t go. It sounded too fishy.
I mention this because I think this is the way a lot Christians approach witnessing: a formula. They talk about Jesus as if He’s some amazing new product or program that will cure all the problems of the world. Don’t get me wrong; I definitely believe that Jesus gets us through tough times. But I think it is way too easy to make Him sound like a product instead of the King of kings.
Either that, or they make God sound like a sniper with his rifle aimed at you.
I once saw a video on YouTube of Todd Friel witnessing to some teenagers. He started by asking the classic evangelical opening question, “Do you think you’re a good person?”
“Yeah, I guess,” the teens reply.
“Well, the Bible says we’re not. We’ve broken God’s commandments. Have you ever told a lie?”
“Then you’re guilty before God and deserve eternal punishment. But Jesus died for your sins.”
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in sugar coating sin. But from my own observations, guilt-tripping people into following Jesus.
In fact, I don't think the Bible has any "how to witness" formulas. As many times as I've read the Bible, I've never seen Jesus walk up to a random person and ask, "Do you think you're a good person?" Neither is there anywhere in the Bible when, after some one asks, "What must I do to be saved?", Jesus says, "Repeat after me. 'Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner . . . '"
Charles Spurgeon once said soul-winning "should be the main pursuit of every true believer." While I definitely believe it should be at least one of our main pursuits (the others being feeding the poor, caring for the planet, speaking up for justice, etc.), sometimes I think we need better ways to win souls. And I'm not talking about making Jesus "relevant" by putting Him on a skateboard, or something hokey like that. I mean I think we should preach Christ in a way that He becomes something real, something beautiful, something that will make the soul leap for joy.
How do you do that? I don't know, yet. I'm still figuring that out.
How do you share your faith with others?