I was raised in a very evangelistic culture. We were constantly taught how to defend the faith and how to properly make gospel presentations. I took in a long video series on how to defend creationism to evolutionists. My middle school group often went down to the local gas station to witness to the people who just wanted 99 cent hot dogs.
Here in the West we interpret the Great Commission to mean we need to get as many people on board as possible. Though that Commission tells us to make disciples we focus much more so on making converts – as (hopefully) converts will naturally progress into disciples (that is if don’t just convert ’em and leave, what college kids refer to as wham, bam, thank you ma’am).
And because in our day we’re constantly being sold something we in turn try to sell the gospel to the non-believer. And how do you sell something? You present it as something you need. The oldest trick in the book.
This one might land me in trouble: No one really needs God. Plenty of people have lived their entire life without God and been, well, fine. They may have even been happy. Some of course raise their fingers in their air and say “BUT, they were actually empty shells and put on their best happy face.” And I’d say, true, though in a way almost everyone does this, even Christians. But let’s be honest, we all know some non-believers who have meaningful and beautiful lives.
You can try to sell God by saying “he will fulfill your life and make it that much better.” In my experience people often don’t like to change and would rather stay at status quo. You can offer them something better and they’d just as well remain where they are. Not to mention plenty of people have sold religion poorly by being miserable people living under some sort of oppression who have made that fulfillment claim questionable and untrustworthy.
I can see why Christians resorted to selling God for his fire insurance properties, because really all the other tactics (you need him, he’ll fulfill your life) didn’t seem to pull in much result.
So how do we sell that to someone that should be a Christian? What is it you gain from being a Christian? Persecution, exclusion from different groups? From what I’ve found God often has to break us down to build us back up, and real growth comes from pain. But those don’t make a whole lot of sense printed on the brochures. We won’t get lines around the building for that.
I could launch into an extended spiel about how love is both our means and our end, and that we do a “show, not tell” sort of witnessing approach. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you could fill in the blanks.
So instead I’d like to hear from you – how do you present or sell the gospel? And how on earth do you not sound like a printer salesman?
*please note the “Go and Make Convertibles,” though written as a joke, actually has a deeper layer of meaning as con-verts are skeletons of the disciples they could be. They are all sport and little function. As a kid I referred to them as “broken cars.”