Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Process of Story Listening Evangelism

The Process of Story Listening Evangelism

Story Listening Evangelism is a process by which a witness is used by God to bring a person to a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Essentially, the witness is used by God to mirror back to the person witnessed to their own words that reveal their need for salvation. Often lost people are not consciously aware of their need for salvation, let alone their lostness. As the listening witness hears the unconscious cry for help through what the lost person says, the lost person comes to an aha! moment that occurs when that person's story of lostness and seeking intersects God's story of self-revelation which has as its theme seeking and saving those who are lost.

More specifically, the aha! moment occurs when the lost person hears his or her own meta-story, the story that is deep inside a person that is driving all the stories a person tells to their conscious awareness at the surface. When a witness listens to a lost person, in each exchange of conversation, the witness experiences a counterstory. Counterstory enables the witness to hear the clues that the lost person shares that will guide the witness in his or her response.

The challenge for the witness is to not allow his or her own counterstory to shut down the witnessing conversation. The rule of thumb in story listening is that a witness cannot go any further into a lost person's story than he or she has gone into his or her own story. That does not mean the witness has to sin the sins of the lost person in order to be able to lead that person to the Lord. Rather it means the witness has to have capacity. If the witness's plate is full, even of good stuff, he or she will throw a circuit breaker when he or she encounters the sin and pain of a lost person. The witness will do this by changing the subject, telling his or her own story, or ignoring the lost person and ending the conversation. The only time a witness should use his or her own story in a witnessing conversation is when the conversation becomes stuck or when the witnesses uses the tool of a story check. A story check occurs when the witness makes a guess as to what the meta-story is in that lost person's life. A story check is offered in tentative language because the witness is not sure what the meaning of the lost person's story is until the lost person tells the witness what it is. None of us has lived in the skin of another.

A story check looks like this: The witness might say, " As we have been talking together, it sounds like to me that you might (note the tentative language) be afraid you are dying and do not know where you will spend eternity. Could I be right (again, notice the tentative language) ? The lost person will either answer YES or NO. If the response is yes, then continue with the witness. If no, and you have built rapport with the lost person, just listen to the next thing the person says, In Story Listening Evangelism (SLE) , the rule is not one strike and you're out! Just listen to the next thing the lost person says. Like an air traffic controller, he or she will tell a story that will that will more clearly reveal the direction of the lost person's meta-story. The witness should then follow this direction change to stay with the lost person's story.

The process continues....

Next week I will share more clues in SLE including why the witness pays attention to the first thing a lost person says, when a lost person changes the subject, the tone of voice, the modality of the lost person's language, and even how to deal with silences and anger.

I ask for your feedback and dialogue as I share with you Story Listening Evangelism. I especially welcome your conversations about how to build capacity so that a witness can stay in a witnessing conversation.

Looking forward to being with you again next week!

(c) 2007 The Aurora Network

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