Culture

A Bedtime Prayer for Terrorists

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Father of All Peoples,
Giver of All Life.

When the world is in turmoil, we confess that we feel afraid.
We want to fix it with words: “Us” and “Them.”
We want to fix it with weapons: anger and hatred, fire and steel.

But we are a people of love.
We want to believe that perfect love casts out fear.
And although it’s hard to believe,
We pray in faith that you can work in the hearts of terrorists.

We do not know where they are.
But you know.
We do not know what they plan.
But you know.

And so we will reach down deep for the truest thing we know.
And pray for love to seep into places filled with fear.

Wherever an extremist has joined ranks to find meaning,
Fill his dreams with your purposes.

Wherever one has joined from disillusionment with his parents,
Fill his dreams with your Fatherly love.

Wherever one has fled to fight because he’s a misfit in his community,
Give him dreams of belonging in Your family.

Wherever one has joined from loneliness,
Find his longing and let him dream of your longings.

Whoever falls asleep plotting, fill their dreams with uncanny peace.
Whoever falls asleep hateful, fill their dreams with inexplicable joy.

And when they awake, may they wonder why this all seemed so important
As they open their eyes, let them see anew
As they look to the day ahead, fill their minds with doubt
As they step from their beds, give their feet uncertainty
As they rise to face the day, go with them into that day
Haunt them all day with those dreams
Give them courage to whisper their dreams to each other
Disrupt their hate with visions of your love
Undermine their fear with visions of your love
Fill their hearts with visions of your love.

Amen.

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15 responses to “The Bad Habits of Christendom Evangelism – “The Romans Road,” The Four Spiritual Laws, Evangelism Explosion and the Bridge Illustration (WTWNC 3)

  1. Dude, you nailed it.
    I’ve been trying (poorly) to articulate my resistance to such ‘outreach’ approaches and this post has done me a world of good (with some degree of urgency, some of these methods are being repackaged and re-pitched to churches). Matt, I guess there is a piece of us that can all relate to the Starbucks employee.

  2. Wow, fantastic post. Indeed, these copy and paste evangelism techniques may be largely *why* they will not come!
    A potential starting place for another approach (assuming you want something that can be explained to a large group of people) is Three Story Evangelism. Check it out here: http://www.yfccampuslife.com/3story.htm . Please ignore the awful formatting, and many things could be worded more helpfully. But the basic idea of weaving our story, Christ’s story, and the story of our friend is very applicable in a post-Christendom setting (I think).

  3. I think the issue surrounding evangelism in the Christendom/Post-Christendom worlds is motivation. Why “share” the gospel? Why “receive” it? In a Christendom world, the idea of hell could be used to make the bad news really bad, so the good news could look really good…
    In a post-Christendom western world, there is no memory of camp meetings, revivals and Billy Graham. And no real fear of a future hell. Just as well, it was a selfish motivation anyway. We were never supposed to fear hell. We were supposed to “fear” God.

    Maybe the good news will finally have to stand on its’ own. Maybe, in a post-Christendom world, we’ll have to give up on the “scare the hell out of them” routine…

  4. Dave,
    Thanks for these posts. As we search for a new *tool*, I’m reminded of an influential preacher in my life who emphasizes the power of stories. I’m wondering on what your thoughts are on the ability to evangelize using stories, in much of the same way the parables explain yet also challenge the hearers to partake in the roles of the story?

  5. Timmy Bailey, you heretic 🙂 … I think your statement “the good news will finally have to stand on its own” is telling. Owing nothing to its own inherent character, the modern way of evangelism was to defend it, prop it up, make it appealing based on reasoning, appeals external to itself. Not any more, for I believe the gospel has always been about an invitation into the redeeming of all creation, including ourselves, in Christ Jesus, beginning where we live right now … (PS enjoyed the time in Hamilton Saturday)..Dustin … stories … yes … we’ll connect on that with the next post …

  6. Thanks for this post. I remember being asked (or coerced, perhaps) when I was in college to “go evangelize” (walk up to people you don’t know who are trying to enjoy a meal at the mall and write the Roman Road on a napkin) on multiple occasions. I never felt comfortable with it but felt guilty telling these folks no. I did end up going once.
    I love the post, though, because although I didn’t feel like that approach was effective, loving or genuine, I think I would feel much like the guy in the Starbucks story — without a great alternative! I feel like I grew up in the Christendom mentality but realize that those methods of evangelism do not work Now I live in this place of tension where I am trying to re-learn how I think about my faith in order to live it out everywhere I go. And hopefully tell the story as I go.

    Sorry for the scattered thoughts! Thanks again for this series.

  7. […] everyday life, not through attractional means, that we become onramps for the gospel as opposed to transaction salesman, that we look for ways to inhabit our neighborhoods as Christ, incarnating the gospel in our ways […]

  8. should we not begin with HIS story? i understand where you’re going with all this post-christendom stuff, but i wonder if our post-resurrection stories will continue to include telling God’s whole story to as many people as he places in our lives? can i make a confession? i tend to talk about tools more than simply talking to people about Jesus – this is the ‘professional’ part of me that i continually try and crucify daily. i just want so much to be perfect in my ‘Jesus talk’ instead of just talking. but hey, that’s just me.

  9. I just wanted to let you know that I have been using the Romans Road method for quite sometime. And, very successfully I might add. I couple it with WOTM (Way of the Master). Convicting people of the fact that we are all sinners. Then, I show them, through the scripture that Jesus is our one and only way. No, I don’t convert everyone. Yes, some people do shy off. But, some of those people who went away with no response that day have come back to me since, and are attending a church and reading their Bible. Not trying to insult anyone here. But, if you took a few courses in Evangelism, you woill learn that you must treat evangelism like farming. There are three steps. Plowing the fields, planting the seeds, and reaping the harvest. We will never reap the harvest. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. But, we are called upon by the Lord in the Great Commission to go out and do the other two steps for him. His word is the best way to convict someone and show them the hope that lies within them.

  10. As an agnostic, I must say that most of Christian evangelizing is just plain dreadful. Here’s a few examples I’ve experienced or heard of:
    ~Guy on the corner with the bull-horn and sandwhich boards yelling at women, telling them they’re “whores” and that they’re going to Hell.

    ~Men on the bus sit down next to you to explain Jesus; you can’t leave the bus, you want to go home, but you’re trapped.

    ~Valedictorian at a public high school graduation using her speech to invite those in the audience to come to Christ; you’re there to celebrate the educational achievements of your child, but many in the crowd like what she has to say. For a brief time, they turn the graduation ceremony into a triumphal Christian pep rally.

    ~Airplane pilot who uses the airplane intercom to explain that non-Christians are crazy, and that Christian passengers should use their flight time to witness to their neighbors.

    ~You’re sister invites you into a Christian bookstore and points out a book that purports to tell the tale of a five-year old that died and went to heaven, and then came back to earth.

    Most of all, I detest that strange Evengelicals approach me not as a human being with my own interests and beliefs, but as a lost soul, a project if you will. They’re not interested in me per say, just in another generic loser who is going to Hell.

    What is effective, is living the example of Christ, and waiting for non-Christians to develop curiousity about how and why you behave the way you do. Especially powerful are live examples of grace and magniminity. For instance:

    ~The Amish directly forgiving the man that killed six of their little girls, and then showing empathy for his widow.

    ~Reg and Maggie Green, two Northern Californian Christians were touring Italy with their small son, who was shot and killed during a highway robbery; his parents donated his organs to sick Italians.

    ~Gregory Alan Williams, an African-American who risked his life to save a Japanese man who was attacked by Crips gang members during the L.A. riots.

    ~Shane Claiborne and those Red Letter Christians who’ve moved into the slums of Philadelphia to help improve the lives of its residents.

    For this world weary agnostic, exposed to the athiestic arguments of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, I’m not going to be won over by intellectual arguments about the inerrancy of the bible or tales of personal relationships with Jesus Christ. Sincere, powerful examples of Christian self-sacrifice, grace and magniminity are the only things that might make me believe once more.

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