Sunday, February 11, 2007

Story Listen Evangelism Process, Part 3

Story Listening Evangelism (SLE) is a process of being used by God to listen to a lost person and lead that person to a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ. As the witness listens to the lost person, over the shoulder of the lost person, the witness sees God's story of self-revelation and salvation coming toward the lost person. The witness also hears the lost person's story as he or she reveals a cry for help that salvation can respond to. The witness is also aware of his or her own story (counterstory) and how that story can be used to respond to the story of the lost person.

The process of SLE can be very short or take a while. the fastest I have ever been able to hear a person's story from the time of first thing said to the aha! moment was sixty seconds. That scared me, it was so fast! As the weight lost commercials say in fine print: results are atypical. I will tell you: your results will be different! That happened only once in twenty years of doing story listening.

Usually an SLE witness can take minutes, hours, days, weeks, even months. One woman witnesses to the man who had proposed marriage to her. She told him she did not want him to become a Christian just so she would marry him. Rather, she wanted him to come to a genuine saving faith. He had been deeply hurt in an earlier experience with a church. Over several months she practiced SLE, listening to him and being coached by me and a class of witnesses in an SLE training workshop. The day came, after months of active SLE, when we all read the e-mail with joy that he had made a profession of faith. AND they did marry, too! What joy!

The process of SLE can be described as a series of interchanges over a period of time when the witness listens to what the lost person says. What the lost person says is his or her own story as he or she self-reveals, sometimes unconsciously, the need for salvation. The witness hears within himself or herself a counterstory that the lost person's story kicks up into awareness from the unconscious. At times to clarify understanding the perceived counterstory, the witness will do a story check with the lost person, It might go something like this:

As we have been talking, I've heard you talk about several things that seem to be missing in your life at this time. I'm wondering if you are searching for something that matters that can fill those voids? Could I be right?

Notice the tentative language. None of us has lived in the shoes of the person to whom we are witnessing. We can only make a guess as to what is going on in their life. And with SLE, you can make a very educated guess.

Then you listen for the response to your story check. If you are on target, the lost person will tell you so and the conversation will be that much closer to an aha! moment. If you guessed wrong and have built rapport with the lost person, the lost person will adjust the story to put you better on track to hear the self-revelation. Only if you guessed too soon, without rapport or trust being built, will the lost person shut down the conversation completely or divert attention with a story that moves away from an aha! moment.

The interchange process will then be a back and forth story, counterstory dance. Sometimes the lost person will change the subject, become more or less animated, go silent, become angry or any number of moves. With each move by the lost person the witness carefully notes his or her own counterstory which helps to understand the story that is being revealed by the lost person. AND the witness holds in abeyance the counterstory and keeps on listening to the lost person, acknowledging that the witness is hearing the lost person or offering a story check to clarify understanding.

The interchange creates clues as to what is really going on in the soul of the lost person. I will describe more of those clues next week and in the weeks ahead.

Until then, let me know what you think and what's happening in your attempts at sharing faith.


(c) 2007 The Aurora Network

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