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

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Introductory Blog

Welcome new readers and fellow bloggers interested in a way to lead a person to faith by genuinely listening to and focusing on the lost person and not through gimmicky propostions.

The purpose of this blog is to invite dialogue about the new paradigm for evangelism I have developed called, Story Listening Evangelism. Over the next several weeks I will share with you assumptions and challenges involved in this approach to evangelism. I will also share with you previews outlining the toolbox of witnessing skills that will make up the book I am writing as a guide to Story Listening Evangelism.

Story Listening Evangelism, or SLE, for short, has been developed to address the need to listen to the lost person who is being witnessed to. From the beginning of Evangelsim Explosion to today, most schools of evangelism mention the need to listen to the lost person, yet they do not tell the reader how. That is what SLE intends to do with a multi-skill toolbox that the witness can choose from to tailor each individual witness.

Up first: Assumptions

  • God is a story-telling, self-revealing God who is actively seeking to save each and every person in his creation.

  • We, as human beings, are created in the image of God and therefore are story-telling, self-revealing creatures.

  • The aha! moment in salvation occurs at the intersection of God's story of self-revelation and the story of the lost person.

  • Story is any verbal and/or non-verbal self-revelation on the part of a speaker.

  • Story listening evangelism is the process by which a witness listens to a lost person and mirrors that person's story back to that person in an ongoing , perhaps extended conversation or series of conversations, to the point that the lost person experiences an aha! moment of his or her need for God's salvation.

  • Through SLE a witness can hear a lost person's cry for help even before that person is consciously aware of his or her own need for salvation.

  • SLE is a universal tool that transcends cultures and equips the witness to be used by God to enter into and stay in an evangelistic conversation with virtually anyone, anywhere, until the person witnessed to chooses to end the conversation.

  • God is the agent of salvation through the person of the Holy Spirit who draws a person to God, and the saving act of Jesus Christ's atoning, vicarious death on the cross for the sins of all mankind.

  • SLE fulfills the Great Commission's original Greek grammar, "As you go,..."

These are the basic assumptions that form the foundation of SLE. In the weeks ahead I will introduce the process known as Story Listening. From there I will share with you tools and skills from the SLE toolbox including:

  • Autonomic eye movements that guide the witness in which modality to use to speak the same language as the person witnessed to

  • Transitions, which provide a rich source of information by which to tailor the witness

  • How to deal with verbal anger encountered in witnessing

  • How to use dialogue to lead a person to faith

  • How to use family process as a tool to lead a person to faith

  • How to use fierce questions from Susan Scott's Fierce Conversations in an evangelistic conversation

  • How to identify neurological filters in a speaker's words in order to understand and predict how that person will make a decision to come to faith in God through Jesus Christ

  • How to identify dysfunctional beliefs that impede a person's coming to faith

I look forward to hearing from you as I share God's calling to me to synthesize the tools of story listening into the toolbox of SLE. To God be the glory!