Sunday, April 08, 2007

Unmasking Makes Evangelism Real

Last week I synthesized Susan Scott's first principle of a fierce conversation into an evangelistic setting: Master the courage to interrogate reality. Essentially, the witness needs to inquire into and value the reality in a lost person's life. This week I move to principle 2: Come out from behind yourself into the conversation and make it real. This is basically Scott's definition of a fierce conversation.

Both the witness and the lost person benefit in the evangelistic conversation when each in turn take their masks off and be real with each other before God. The witness unmasks as he or she is aware of the beliefs that are shaping the witness shared. More than the content of God's great story of salvation, the beliefs extend to what the witness believes about his or her own abilities in the conversation. What the witness believes about the lost person is also important. If the witness does not believe the lost person is a person worthy of God's salvation, obviously, that will impact the conversation. If the witness or the lost person is carrying around an incredible amount of personal pain, either may resort to abstract language, rapidly changing the subject, or telling their own story instead of staying on track with the witness.

The witness needs to create a safe enough atmosphere for the lost person to take off his or her mask as be real in the conversation, too. Letting the lost person know that it is safe to have questions, doubts, concerns, and even anger toward God, the church, or groups of believers is OK.

In her book for business and life, Scott encourages fierce conversationalists to write their own stump speech, just like a politician does. It needs to be brief, to the point, memorized, and told often. The witness needs to create a stump speech for his or her evangelistic efforts, answering these questions: Who am I as a witness? Where am I going in my witness with lost people? Why am I going there? Who is going with me?

Fro me, as a witness, I am fulfilling the Great Commission. In the spirit of the Greek participle of Matthew 28: 19, "As I go, I share the Gospel with those in my path." That is the value of a Story Listening Evangelism approach to witnessing. The tools are there for any occasion, for any person, to equip the witness to adjust the conversation to meet the spiritual needs of the unique individual God is seeking to save.

Where am I going in my witness? I am going to stay sensitive to the story that unfolds from the lost person and to the story of God that surfaces in the conversation.

Why am I approaching evangelism this way? Because it honors the lost person and provides room for the Holy Spirit to do the work of salvation.

Who is going with me? I hope you, the reader, is going with me. I hope business people who struggle with being politically correct in dealing with clients and colleagues will discover the effectiveness and respect that comes from this form of witnessing. I hope the person who has never led a person to the Lord is coming along, discovering that the process can be learned and followed by anyone willing to listen and care for lost people. I hope that people who want to be on the cutting-edge of the Kingdom will come with me on this journey to make evangelism real and fierce.

What mask do you need to take off in order to be a fierce witness? What beliefs mobilize your witness? What beliefs get in the way of your attempts to share your faith with a lost person?
What witnessing conversation are you avoiding with someone right now?

I invite you with the skills and tools of Story Listening Evangelism to show up in someone's life today, without your mask!

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