Connection as a Tool for Evangelism.
If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 1 Corinthians 12:15-26
What is your experience with feeling anxiety when inviting someone to visit your church family? I experienced a varying degree insecurity about ‘the body’ depending on what congregation I was attending at the time.
I am going to abuse the body metaphor for a moment… Every body has an armpit, stinky foot, or an unsightly scar from a bad past experience. In the body of Christ, I’m certain that I have been the metaphorical armpit at times. Either way, we are a body and have to figure out #1, how to get past the self-body shaming, or at least to a degree, and then #2 how to allow for new growth within the body. There’s always room for some new muscle, right?
I have been a part of congregations where the thought of inviting someone to visit the church made me feel physically ill.
How many times have you felt the following?
I really want to bring this person to Christ, but how in the world could I bring them to “the church”, or at least to this particular congregation?
A huge obstacle to evangelism is the idea of bringing people into the body, so I would like to make some suggestions on how we can give our selves a break and make connecting people to the body, work in our favor.
CASE STUDY #1 Erlin & Noemi
There are very few couples here in Cusco that I have less in common with. I prefer traditional western medicine, and they prefer a traditional medicine of a more homeopathic style. We COULD sit and argue all day about why the others point of view is crazy, but we don’t although occasionally we tease each other like siblings.
To be honest, I am a bit terrified of getting sick, and it’s teaching me not to complain so much because the second the church here knows I’m sick they all want to cure me, help me, and fix me. I know, I’m now complaining about being overly loved.
I recently had a badly sprained ankle, and I will whine and complain about it, annoying the people around me, but that’s as far as I really want the attention to go. Erlin and Noemi do not really care what I want. So they show up at my house with jars of herbs soaking in unknown liquids, one jar had a dead snake resting on the bottom. (I digress) … They proceed to whip up some egg whites nice and thick and paint them on my ankle, then caked the ankle in a mixture of herbs (which felt like they were in boiling water). To finish up the treatment they wrapped my ankle in an old newspaper like a cast. What’s the point?
While everything they do and how they live is honestly a little crazy to me, I realize they see me in a similar way. But all the while they insist on loving me to death (maybe literally jk). I know when visitors come to church they will interact with them differently than I would, sometimes to an embarrassing degree and vice-a-versa. The point of this blog is not to argue the validity of one point of view or the other. So if people are to magically start leaving comments, restrain yourselves from taking a side, unless it is to harass me in brotherly love, then go for it. 🙂
Long story short, here’s the point. (finally)
When I am meeting new people and attempting to lead people to Christ, I am simultaneously listening to them and getting to know who they are. If they are into homeopathic, organic, granola stuff, I’m looking for ways to introduce them to Erlin and Noemi, and even if possible get Erlin and Noemi to help take over the Bible study. I even encourage them to gang up on me in a healthy brotherly argument about my crazy western medicine ideas. After a few weeks of connecting them to other members of the church body… inviting them to visit the church is a much better process.
Is their car broken? Maybe there’s a mechanic in the church. House problem/contractor; trouble getting their cake recipe just right/baker; bad teeth/dentist… etc, etc, .. all working together towards the goal of leading people to Christ. Maybe it’s shared needs or things they have in common. Either way, when we meet new people and are looking to lead them to Christ, it doesn’t hurt to start thinking ahead and getting them connected to the body. Consider, Matthew 5:14
“You are the light of the world.”
Sometimes I would prefer a southern translation that says, “Y’all are the light of the world” so that the church will remember that the word YOU (ὑμεῖς) in this verse is originally plural.
“Y’all are the light of the world.”
It just works better.
Again, my point is, though much harder and more time consuming, we could work better as a church, plural, than as individuals leading people to Christ. No matter how weird or different the other parts of the body are.