Not too long ago I started a segment on my blog called, "Life Stories." My hope was to highlight stories from people's lives and how God unites us in the gospel whether we live down the street from each other or 2000 miles away. Today I'm posting a "life story" by Zach Nielsen, a friend from college and gifted musician and worship leader at Desert Springs Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His thoughts on evangelism challenged me greatly.
Since I have been back working at the church I have been convicted that I oftentimes spend 40 hours a week in a my nice and safe little Christian cave, affectionately called, "The Z Lounge" (my office). I know we all have our different callings, and I believe that mine is to work for the church, but the downside of that is that I don't get rub shoulders that much with unbelievers.
I have been preaching to myself and to some around me that those of us (especially those like me who live in suburbia) that we have to find a context or an imposed structure that forces us to spend some time everyday day, week or month, etc, where we hang out with people who need Jesus. I have found that if I don't have a structure for this I simply won't do it. When I was starving musician in Nashville I waited tables as Applebees (Craplebees, as I like to call it) and this gave me a context where I shared my faith more in 9 months that I probably have my whole life. The point here is that since I was an employee there was a structure for evangelism that was imposed upon my life. Now that I live in Albuquerque my context of choice is the jazz community. There is a jam session every Tuesday night at this cool restaurant in town and I try and go sit in whenever I can.
If you want to be a missionary, what is the first thing you are told to do? Learn the language of the people you are trying to win. This is where the piano practicing comes in. If I rolled in there every Tuesday night and didn't have my stuff together in terms of the jazz language I don't think I would have much of a platform to communicate other things about Jesus in English words (as opposed to notes and musical phrases). As is unfortunately too often true in the church and my own heart, people tend to judge you based on what you can do. Thus, my degree of excellence as a piano player may have a direct effect upon how I am received and respected by those I am trying to reach, thus there is much at stake in terms of the time I spend at the piano.
I am a relational evangelist. I have never been that kind of a guy who can just roll up on people and drop the gospel bomb on them and it's all good. I know people who can do this well, it's just never been me. I think it's a gift that a majority of people don't have, but most of us do have the opportunity to build relationships with those around us who have similar interests and passions. Do the work and find your context!
I know in terms of strategy there are those who would oppose what I am promoting here. That's fine and that's another post for another day, but the big question is:
1. Do you have a context for evangelism? 2. If yes, what are you doing to learn the cultural "language" of those you are trying to reach? 3. Do you speak it well?
(HT: Vit. Z)