Bryan McLaren writes on Evangelism

That’s right I name dropped in my title, so what? I have to admit, I’m not a big McLaren fan, but I’m not a hater either. I’m making my way through his (and Campollo’s) book, “Adventures in Missing the Point“, thanks to our student pastor, Steve Ingold. I have tons of pages earmarked to discuss on the ol’ blog, but today I found a section that I agree wholeheartedly with, on evangelism. Check out what McLaren’s “how to” list:

Build a relationship (avoid slipping into Answer Man mode)

Don’t offer a cheap or easy answer for a deep, complex question (quoting Bible verses may be very convincing for you… probably not for someone who doesn’t value the Bible)

Feel free to say you don’t know (humility trumps pride every time)

Rely on the power of stories (it’s hard to argue with a personal story)

Keep the conversation going (care enough to follow through)

Encourage [people] to exercise whatever faith they have (if you have faith as small as a mustard seed…)

If some questions are beyond you, then introduce [people] to others who can understand, relate, and help (share resources, network, it’s not about you)

Don’t assume there’s only one right way to answer a question (rehearsed answers are stale and lifeless)

Be sensetive to God’s Spirit at work in the situation (we often carry the entire burden of evangelizing people ourselves, when God is already at work and will continue to be when we fail)

Don’t pressure anyone to believe (again, God’s Spirit is at work, allow a true revelation to happen in God’s timing, not yours)

Always be respectful and gentle with spiritual questioners (just read 1 Peter 3:15)

Educate yourself on the most common apologetic questions (existence of God, creation, evil, the Bible, other religions, Jesus Christ, salvation, heaven, hell, sexuality, etc)

I absolutely LOVE this line of thinking and here’s three major reasons why:

  1. This model puts a high value on relationships; relationship with God, and relationships with others. And you have to be authentic to have healthy relationships. I think this is one major point of the organized Christian religion. Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to Love God and Love Others!
  2. This model also speaks of us as believers being prepared, of increasing our knowledge of who God is, what the Bible is, what it says, and how it relates to some very important issues in our lives & culture today. I always think that reaching out to the unchurched, or dechurched is a great way to grow spiritually.
  3. This model takes away the fear of not knowing all the answers, or feeling “not mature” enough to talk to people about Christ. People want authenticity, reality – not some fake, four spiritual laws talk. They want to hear your story, your struggles with life & faith. And how Christ has rescued you and given you a new life that isn’t necessarily perfect, but is full or promise.

So, I’m on the same page with McLaren on this one. What about you?

5 thoughts on “Bryan McLaren writes on Evangelism

  1. Jay Sellers

    I read this book about the same time as I read “Evangelism Without Additives: What if sharing your faith meant just being yourself?” by Jim Henderson and immediately put the “new” techniques to action. I no longer share my faith with the car salesman style ABC (always be closing) agenda.

    It was a struggle at first to become transparent enough to let people know that I didn’t have all the answers. As a result though, I now have long-term maturing relationships with people that are still wrestling with faith issues, but they no longer wrestle alone.

    I’m challenged by McLaren. He makes me think outside the box, fo sho.

    Jay Sellerss last blog post..AppleCare to the Rescue!!!

  2. James McLean

    hey bro,

    i think you mean’t bryan not brayn right? 🙂

    i think these are some great things. the biggest thing is that we allow people to see Christ in us, because that is what is attractive. the qualities and character of Christ were always attractive, read the gospels, people loved being around him!
    if people come to know God its gonna be because they saw Christ in us, i def don’t have enough morality or charming qualities to get them to that point.
    showing them you care and that you can hang with them and listen and not provide a solution all the time is so crucial. good post!

    James McLeans last blog post..Moving from Ideal to Real: If Only

  3. Melissa

    I want to read this book. I really appreciate McLaren’s “How to List.” The part that spoke to me was, “Be sensitive to God’s Spirit at work in the situation.” God is the one at work. We can stop being fearful and stop worrying.

    Melissas last blog post..The Gift of Adoption

  4. jordan fowler

    Here are a few more…

    1. actually believe there are some objective answers to some questions.
    2. affirm the substitutionary atonement

    Bryan is a cool hang. I’ve eaten at a Vegan restaurant with him and Andrew Jones in St. Louis at a conference we both spoke/lead worship at. I just really have disagreement with some of his conclusions. Try reading, Why We are Not Emergent By Two Guys Who Should Be as a nice (and really funny) counter read.

    jordan fowlers last blog post..Why is my self worth so tied to my technorati rating?

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