The Ultimate Evanga-Phobia

This month, I’ve been pondering why we American Christians have a very difficult time sharing our faith. Some of us do nothing, assuming that is our way of sharing the Gospel with “gentleness and respect” as 1 Peter teaches. Some of us can pull off the typical Mega-church evanga-scheme of inviting our friends to come and hear an impressive speaker who can do a much better job of wooing them to Jesus. However increasing numbers of believers rightly wonder if this evanga-scheme is working to produce actual disciple-making disciples of Jesus Christ. We are right to wonder if it’s actually effective (see the Willow Creek Association’s Reveal study) but usually the only thing we’re left to do is – well nothing. I think most of us are left doing nothing because we harbor certain evanga-phobias, some of which I discussed in my previous post.

Let me share with you one final insight that I think is the ultimate phobia for North American believers. A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending Willow Creek Church’s Global Leadership Summit. I got to hear some great stories and hear great insights from incredible minds in all fields of human endeavor. One of the speakers was Joseph Grenny who has written the New York Times bestseller “Crucial Conversations – Tools For Talking When The Stakes Are High.” He is a frequent contributor to BusinessWeek and Forbes and has appeared on CNN. His organization provides communication training solutions to 300 Fortune 500 companies. Needless to say, he knows his stuff. His whole presentation was set in the context of leading teams and developing healthy team cultures and not evangelism. However, he established the fact that crucial conversations are the ones which involve three elements: 1) opposing opinions 2) strong emotions and 3) high stakes. Here’s what fascinated me. Doesn’t that sound like a conversation about the Gospel of Jesus Christ? We approach people with a story that we know is opposed in our culture, a message that is increasingly viewed as “small-minded” and “backwards.” We share our hope with people who can get prickly with some pretty strong emotions when we bring up Jesus., and it’s high stakes because the person we’re talking to desperately needs salvation.

Here’s where Joseph Denny provided a brilliant insight. He said, “In our research we’ve found that people don’t have crucial conversations because by the age of 4 we’ve learned to believe a myth. We’ve learned to believe that, “You have to choose between telling the truth and keeping friends.” Wow! This is true on so many levels, but achingly true when it comes to believers who are afraid to share the Gospel. We believe that if we tell the truth (the Gospel) we will lose a friend. So we keep quiet because we believe this is the best way to preserve the relationship. This is a false dichotomy. A false dichotomy is “a logical fallacy which involves presenting two opposing views, options or outcomes in such a way that they seem to be the only possibilities.” Telling the truth and losing a friend  are not the only possibilities when we speak the truth or share the Gospel. There are hundreds of other possible outcomes that come from having crucial conversations, including a dear friend finding life in Jesus Christ. It is imperative that we get over this ultimate evanga-phobia and start entering into more crucial conversations with people who need Christ. What do you think?


About Andy Lewis

Andy is an author, pastor, and musician who lives in Santa Cruz California. Currently he serves as lead pastor at Faith Community Church in Santa Cruz
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1 Response to The Ultimate Evanga-Phobia

  1. Michelle says:

    I ended up in a conversation with a mormon friend who wanted to evangelize me. So for 2 hours we sat in a hotel room and compared and contrasted our beliefs about Jesus and Christianity (it got weird because while it started as a conversation between the two of us we ended up with the other 10 women in the room of all different faiths listening in). Anyway, at the end of the conversation she asked me “do you hate me now?” I think she had the fear you’re describing here. She evangelized, we disagreed and she expected me to be mad. Contrary to her expectaion we are actually better friends now (and have sustained a 10 year, long-distance friendship despite our different beliefs. I think we both respected each other for our commitment to our faiths. This was one great experience I had in sharing my faith but in reality I find myself being exactly the person you’re describing here (doing nothing out of “gentleness and respect.” Good series. Tell Aleta Hi for me.

    Michelle from Spokane (Tracey’s friend). 🙂

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