The Question That Died

The Spotlight section of The March 2012 issue of Christianity Today reports that 46% of Americans never wonder about their eternal destinies.

Never.

I’m not sure how to respond to this info. We’ve all seen, at least on TV, the people who call down God’s judgment on everybody who walks past them on city streets. So, it’s easy to see how this happened. People who don’t know Jesus are introduced to him by those whose intention, at best, is to scare people into faith. That approach hasn’t appealed to people in this country for many years now. Yet, the bull horns continue to sound off even after it has become clear that people don’t respond positively. It seems that the louder it gets, the more people shut it out.

But, it has its place in the Bible. John the Baptist, Peter, and Jesus warned the masses about the terrors of an afterlife without saving grace attained through faith in Jesus Christ. How do we follow their lead? The book of John is filled with Jesus’ interactions with individuals, leading many of them into faith without the bullhorn approach, like the Samaritan woman at the well in Chapter 4. Both approaches are biblical so their legitimacy can’t be ignored.

My evangelism M.O. has been – since the bullhorns of yesterday have deafened the spiritual ears of those who need to consider their eternal destinations – to befriend people and live my life in a way that they’ll see my Christian integrity and care for them so that when they have questions they’ll come to me to direct them to the Answer. In our church plant we regularly did the random acts of kindness things like giving out pop at traffic lights and mowing lawns for neighbors. We had great results.

Maybe those things are the new bullhorns? We could be in an age of catching more flies with honey than with vinegar. If that’s the case, the question hasn’t died – it’s just being massaged out of the evangelizee (just coined that word, I think) instead of being jackhammered out by the evangelizer. Apparently, it’s not doing the job as well if only 46% of people are asking the question.

So, here’s my question for you: Should we do away with the bullhorn altogether – at least for now? Do you have a successful, current bullhorn story? It is biblical, after all. I’d love to hear from you on this.

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14 thoughts on “The Question That Died

  1. I believe that the Holy Spirit uses our words to travel into the hearts of those who hear them. When we speak of Jesus and his love for us we make a channel for the Holy Spirit to begin his work. We must say something. When we open the gym or give out pizza we rent people’s ears. Imagine trying to pet a wild deer by first calling out to them on a bull horn. The real way to do it is to assume a pose that is non-threatening, offer something they want and gently work that routine. “Jesus is calling, tenderly calling, calling ‘Oh, sinner, come home'”. Contrast this with the watcher on the wall who will be held responsible if he does not sound the alarm when danger approaches.

    • “Renting their ears.” What an interesting concept!

      You’re absolutely right, we must say something. Too many of us give up. That has contributed greatly to why the question of heaven has died in our society.

      Maybe the bullhorn worked years ago because it was non-threatening and since then it has become intrusive and judgmental?

      Thanks for your thoughts, Brian.

  2. I agree. Attraction will always be more fruitful than coercion. I see the bullhorn as the Pharisee’s trumpet. I’m finding that taking my eyes off others’ unbelief and looking instead into my own sinful heart is a much more honest way to lead people to Jesus. My unbelieving friends are much more open to what I have to say now that I’ve stopped acting like I have all the answers and started admitting that I’m just as silly as every other sheep wandering around out there. I appreciate your message.

    • The Pharisees trumpet. That the second great phrase in a row on these comments. Willow, there’s something about being real that attracts people to our lifestyle. It sound like you’re a great example of that. We don’t have all the answers, but we know Who does! Thanks for your comment.

  3. Recently, on Fox News, I heard of an atheist in Texas who tried via a legal action to have a crib removed from the Public Square, he failed but it got quite unpleasant. Shortly afterward he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. The Christians he “attacked” responded with love and compassion, visited him saw to his various needs and he was overwhelmed. He is, it seems now a believer and seeking further enlightenment.

    • Pastor Randy at Evangel Baptist here in Boardman, OH, shared that a couple weeks ago. That church in Texas knocked it out of the part (American for “home run, did a great job, etc,”). Thanks for the reminder of that story, Father-in-Law of mine. It would have been an nice illustration if I’d thought about it while writing the blog.

  4. I don’t think it’s an either/or kind of solution. I definetely agree that the scare tactics of the extreme charismatic legalists is cause for concern and abolition, however, I also believe that there are often times when standing for truth involves drastic action and a firm rebuke. Above all, we must be genuine and transparent. No method will work in every situation. That’s why the Lord gave us his Spirit…so we could discern what to do, when to do it, and how to do it as it pertains to each individual circumstance. So, as much as we’d love to be able to paint with a broad brush and pin down just what it is that “works” or will be most “relevant” in terms of evagelism, let’s face it, we just have to be Christians in an unChristlike world…everyday. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentlenss, faithfulness and self-control will go a long way no matter who or what we’re dealing with. My advice? Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel.

      • =) I also thought of this: it doesn’t really matter whether we ever see the fruit of our “seed-spreading.” Many, including many in the bible (some of which you note), say and do exactly what the Lord directs in the way in which he directs them and instead of gaining a following and winning converts are persecuted, abandoned, shunned and even martyred. So we have to beware the trap of the American illusion where that which we do well must always result in that which we desire…bc that isn’t a biblical principle, it’s a culturally imposed mindset. We all stand and fall before the Lord alone, not what turns out to be most popular or relevant. “What’s new is not true and what’s true is not new.”

      • I think it was Bill Hybels who said the same thing. God calls us to be involved in the process of drawing people to him. We may be the person that starts the wheels turning in someone’s heart by our actions and someone else later down the line will have the privilege of taking them across the finish line. Or, we could be at the end of a long line of Christians God has used to change a heart in his direction. It will be great to meet people in heaven we influenced for Jesus that we never knew about.

  5. Pastor Brian in Mentor says that we have to go “life-on-life” with folksbefore we “earn the right” to speak Truth into their lives. I know that the bullhorn never worked on me.

  6. I remember when I first became a follower of Christ wanting everyone to know Christ too. I was at School and I would pass down the lines of school mates waiting to go into class and ask them were they saved. They thought I was nuts. I still love to share my faith, but God gives me opportunities through the relationships I make with those who come to the Shalom Centre, an Aged Care Facility in Sydney, Australia, where I work as a Chaplain.

    • It sounds like you weren’t talking to your schoolmates in a condemning manner. Excitement you had was probably foreign to them, and they may even have thought you were nuts, but it sounds like you gave them something to think about without telling them they were all going to hell if the didn’t say a prayer with you right then.

      Working at the Shalom Centre sounds like a great way for you to have gain a relationship with people and naturally share with them the faith that is so real in your life. My Dad is in an aged care facility now and has Alzheimers disease. I thank God for people like you.

      Thanks for your comments, Ross.

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