As I have been trying to implement this vision for how to evangelize, I have noticed something very helpful when talking with folks. It does not always lead into an exposition of the Gospel. However, it develops report with people in a round-about way. So many people have misconceptions as to what it means to be a Christian. They fall into two ditches: 1) being a Christian merely means that I ascent to a truth about a man named Jesus, but this has no repercussions for my daily living; 2) you have to be some fundamentalist who forsakes the world (which means you don’t drink, dance, or date).
As I love on unbelievers, I have found that confronting these misconceptions head on has opened up doors of vulnerability. What does this confrontation look like? I go about it two ways, depending on the conversation. One way is to jokingly say something off base. So I may tell the unbeliever, “I had a wondeful time at church this morning. We slayed two goats and burned a keg of beer. It was so wonderful!” What is unfortunate is that some folks have thought I was serious, and I had to tell them I was joking!
The second way is to tell them outright, “Did you have a good time this weekend? What did you do?” “I went to a club and got toasted.” “Yeah, I went to a bar with some friends this weekend and we had some pizzas and played cards. And then I went home and danced with my wife… You do know that I play cards and dance, right?” The conversation inevitably leads to issues of alcohol. I like to let them know that the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and joy in the Holy Spirit. Of course I don’t blow them away with this, I gently tell them that Christianity is more than tee-totaling.
We need to confront people’s misconceptions head-on. They have oftentimes come back to me and talked with me about crises of faith they have. I believe that much of this has to do with the fact that I am human and can talk sensbily without coming across that I will have to wash seven times after touching them. I have deduced this since some of these folks relay to me an aunt or youth pastor that continually preached on the horrors of alcohol, but they were destitute of grace and love.
May we wake up from our dogmatic slumbers and preach the righteousness that leads to life and not the appearance of religion that leads to death.