Jay came to our staff meeting to give us some wisdom. Jay speaks about Jesus to people who don’t know Jesus in a way that I find endearing. I asked Jay to come give some thoughts on this and here is what he said:
Jay’s family heritage: faith was the thing you make fun of. The kind of thing weak or stupid people need, because smart and strong people don’t need a crutch, they just live their life and take responsibility for their life. After an encounter with Jesus, Jay became a Jesus follower and the a pastor, but still feels somewhat like an outsider to the “church system” and he scratches his head at some of the more bizarre aspects of our “tribe.”
On Speaking of Jesus: “I’m amazed at the great lengths we go to to make people weird in the way they share their life with Jesus.” Jay talked about being a waiter at a restaurant when someone left him a ‘tract’ as a tip. “Why would you do this?” he asked the customer. The customer replied, “I don’t know, our pastor gave it to us….we have 20 of these and we have to get rid of them!” Clearly the people were in some version of an “evangelism class.” The goal of the class is getting people to share their belief in Jesus, but it actually pushed people away from following God because of how weird and unnatural this makes us.
But following Jesus is supposed to make us more human, more empathetic, so why do we do weird things when we’re representing Jesus, rather than be more human toward people?
So here are the 4 things I do:
- Share the life you actually have with Jesus, not a bunch of facts about Jesus. I’m not talking about a testimony, which can tend to be canned and rehearsed, I’m talking about just sharing the life you have with Jesus on a regular basis. The reason people don’t share the life they have with Jesus, it is either because they a) don’t actually have a deep life with Jesus or b) we don’t really care about other people. Deep formation with God and a deep love of other people will naturally lead you to talk about Jesus without thinking about it. It doesn’t have to be sophisticated and we ought not “manage” people’s experience with Jesus.
- Never, ever, ever, under any circumstances, argue with someone. Arguing, the majority of the time, is a manifestation of insecurity. Think about arguments you’ve been in over the last year. If you’re honest, you’d see that your need to defend is a reaction of insecurity. But the life that we have in God secures us. We never have to be afraid, never worry, never in trouble, we’re always forgiven. So if you feel a need to argue with someone who doesn’t believe, it is because you’ve forgotten that you are secure in God. When you discuss your faith and someone challenges you and you notice your emotions rising, that is on you to address. It shows you a hole in the way you’re living your life.
- When you love someone, you sacrifice money and time for them. Christians talk about loving people, but the way you know you love someone is if you sacrifice what is important for them. Money and time. Do you spend your money and your time on people who don’t know Jesus? If you do this on a consistent basis, not for some trap or other motive, but because you love them, Jesus will almost certainly come up in conversation.
- When you talk about life with God, just talk about Jesus. Don’t talk about church or morality or anything else. When people bring up the crusades or how a church has hurt them etc, just “punt on first down.” I always punt on first down. I say all the time, “yeah, I’m really sorry about that, but here is what Jesus says about that. Most people’s intellectual objections are smokescreens for what is going on in their heart.
Q: How many times in the last couple of months have I said the name “Jesus” out loud to people who don’t know him? Learn to ask questions about Jesus to invite people to talk.
Q: If I timed you and all you could talk about is Jesus, how long could you talk? How long until you run out of material? I’m stunned by how little actual Jesus material people have. Ie, how many stories about Jesus or stories Jesus told can you tell?
Q: How did Jesus ‘evangelize’ the disciples? He brings them along, he teaches things and he gets them to try things on. In Jesus, there is no dichotomy between evangelism and discipleship. The disciples didn’t realize that Jesus is Lord for a very long time. If Jesus is willing to work with people that way, we should be too. One effective way for people to experience Jesus is for them to “try on” his teaching.