Saturday, October 03, 2009

Ever since I tasted Ben and Jerry’s Caramel Chew Chew I haven’t needed any training in how to tell others about it

Or in the words of John Piper:
“you can’t commend what you don’t cherish” (p17).
Go read the rest of Jim Walford on Ben & Jerry's Evangelism Training.

Reason number #876 that I love my team.


  1. I agree with the general point, but be careful with the simplification here. After all isn't evangelism a bit more complicated than, "I like this gospel/ice cream" ?

    Of course you'll agree (you and Jim) that there is more to a God given anthropology (and discipleship/sanctification process) than the gospel's challenge to the will. And I'll agree whole heartedly that the fuel of mission is worship, and I particularly like the non-churchy feel of Jim's exhortation to join in prayer as an expression of that worship.

    It's worth asking Christians why they don't do evangelism and having done this a fair bit. I would say that Christians often need more discipleship and apologetics training to help them share the gospel effectively. Though of course, they can share the gospel without either, but the results may not be nearly as exciting.

    What I have found is that the reasons why Christians are not involved in evangelism are actually quite varied: social difficulties, shyness, self-confidence, fear of questions and awkwardness, lack of conviction themselves, poor character, not sure of what the message is, don't have a fully fledged rational faith - only an emotional/experiential one, dislike of confrontation, lack of answers to hard questions themselves, poor reading habits, lack of prayer, weak understanding of major areas in theology, sin, joylessness, narcissism, individualism, have "other areas of focus at the moment".... etc.

    Truth is that many Christians sitting in the pews want help to work out why they know their relationship with God is real, and how they can move through these barriers. Deep down they want to, but the distance feels too great, and simply saying, "If I believed it enough, or if it moved me enough, I wouldn't need training" is too much of a sink or swim attitude to other Christians. It isn't loving enough.

    Across the board churches very often "equip" their faithful with sermons and messages that just don't scratch the missional itch. They are either internal discussions for Christians, messages that are focussed on transforming the lives of believers or just don't contain very much of any use in the difficulties that they are actually facing when it comes to the evangelistic task.

    If we can give them the Ben and Jerry's Caramel Chew Chew challenge, AND train them, helping them to commend the gospel persuasively, while we pray through the questions and struggles, then perhaps we might have something that we might all believe in.

  2. Yeah - has to be both/and. There are dangers on both sides - if we do just train people (as often seems to happen) then we may have efficient but miserable evangelists. Whether that training is good or not... If we only give them the 'buzz' then we might not know what to say.

    I guess I want to start with Transformation of Heart, and then say - ok, so you're buzzing with the gospel, now let's think really, really, really hard about how to engage with real people, real questions and the real world with that...

  3. If we don't start with transformation of heart, then to be honest, it's inauthentic.

    But, I don't see engagement as the second stage of transformation. And I think you're mistaken to pull questions and engagement, away from getting people buzzing with the gospel.

    If you can show people how the gospel can engage with their questions now, then they'll buzz, head and heart.

    If the questions and real questions are delayed, while we do good solid theological instruction and doctrinal teaching, then you are setting up a disconnection, that many of them will never come back from.

    This is the L'Abri way. And it takes longer, much longer and is much more demanding pastorally and in every way, but it is much more biblical and powerful.

  4. Yeah - I guess I'm not overly wanting to separate things, more realising the need to raise the bar on transformed hearts and rigorous thinking and questions - and identifying both helps highlight their importance. I have a lot of time for the L'Abri approach, and the admission that this is going to take time, a lifetime, is so helpful.

  5. I'm not an expert at this approach but... I wonder how someone who is would instruct us to proceed towards this goal. Jim? Andrew?