Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Witnessing

Tom Krattenmaker in USA TODAY writes about "How to sell Christianity? Ask an atheist." No one likes to feel manipulated or subjected to emotional blackmail, and yet atheists report that much of the "evangelism" they experience does feel like that.
Jim Henderson is a recovering evangelist. Back in his soul-chasing, church-starting days, he began hearing a grating dissonance between his faith in Jesus and the way he went about winning new converts. Henderson realized he was doing unto others what he would never want done unto him. He was manipulating conversations to set up a pitch. Viewing people as potential notches on his evangelism belt rather than fellow sojourners and prospective friends. Listening only to the extent it could reveal an argumentative opening. He realized he hated the whole enterprise. ....

Conventional evangelism is often accused, and rightly so, of "bait and switch" tactics; think attractive social gathering or sports outing that, unbeknownst to invitees, is really designed to segue into a Gospel pitch. Henderson has a fascinating alternative to propose: all bait, no switch.

Call it promotion by non-promotion, evangelism by attraction, goodwill mongering, or letting one's life speak for itself, but this is what will best represent the faith among the many Americans who do not share the evangelical faith. Henderson and his fellow travelers are right in urging would-be evangelists simply to get to know people, become their friends and let the spiritual chips fall where they may.

This re-imagined form of witness trumpets good news all around — for Christians who, as Henderson puts it, want to be "normal," for the public credibility of Christianity, and for all of the not-yet and never-will-be converts who don't want to be pitied or demonized for (supposedly) living in the dark. .... [more]
Thanks to Mike Pohlman for leading me to the column, which he summarizes: "So, how does one sell Christianity? You don’t."

The occasions when I know that anything I did was used by God I was unconscious of any effort to evangelize.

How to sell Christianity? Ask an atheist. - USATODAY.com
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