The theme at C.H.A.O.S. (high school youth group) tonight was Evangelism. After prepping the activity and discussion questions, I decided to consult my Twitter / Facebook network for some last minute suggestions. Here is what came my way in the course 0f 45 minutes:
Justin Rimbo (@docrimbo)- Evangelism isn't our responsibility. It's the work of the Holy Spirit in us. SUCK ON THAT.
Dwight DuBois (@blondofthewoods) - I have lots! A whole series of articles. Search the SE Iowa website for 'bowen' and d/l the Evangelism Illuminations article. Best summary: Relationship! (don't be a flashed evangelist)
Beth Lewis (@bethalewis) - Invite a friend to a movie...awkward? no. Gallup research shows that most people new to church come thru an event invite. Ask.
Le Anne Clausen de Montes (via Facebook) - Don't call it 'evangelism.' Invitation, welcome, hospitality--these probably all get to the heart of real evangelism better than a word that's taken on so many negative connotations.
Michael Peuse (via Facebook) - Evangelism is NOT proselytizing.
Two things astonished me. #1 - I have really insightful friends. #2 - This is an example of social networking at its finest. I shared these short perspectives with the young people (in the midst of a highly distracted conversation at Mustard's)...and they resonated loud and strong. The conclusion we reached was that it's easier to talk about what evangelism isn't than to come up with what it is. We talked about ways to demonstrate Christ's love, very few of them involved spirit-healing, speaking in tongues, or distributing tracts on street corners. I was proud of how willing they were to talk about "God stuff" aloud in a public place...which was bit of evangelism in and of itself.
How do I know? The waitress, who overheard our conversation, told me this as we were leaving:
"Your work with kids inspires me. God bless you."
I assured her that it wasn't MY work, but she wasn't interested in theological minutiae. Seeing a group of people gathered for supper and conversation caused this woman to reflect on her own faith...and unexpected byproduct of just another night of senior high youth group.