Parkhour: Sowing seeds – Watering Seeds – Looking for Life

I think our new team may have freaked out a few people this Sunday. We took some very new evangelists along and we had two cameras between five people. A question that was asked of prospective people to evangelise, by us was ” Do you mind if we video us talking to you?” Everyone I heard asked that question said “Yes, we do mind” and didn’t want to speak at all. There was perhaps a percieved threat, invasion of privacy, offence at an overly forward manner or at least a rejection of the request because of it being too weird. No offence to the team – you never know until you go – but I think we need to rethink the “front up” style, reality TV type situation that the average park dweller in Launceston is obviously adverse to and stick to the basics of making a connection with people at where they are at and simply sharing the gospel. I talked to Daniel afterwards about this and suggested that maybe a way of showing questioning techniques, preparing for obstructions, objections and rebuttals and counter arguments to the gospel message is to set up our own contrived encounters where we purposefully present the viewer with a range of scenarios and possible thought out Christian responses. This itself could be a powerful evangelistic tool.

Anyway as I walked the park with Isaac we had two quite positive encounters and opportunities to share the truth of God’s Word with some strangers to God’s grace.

At first we approached a large group of young skaters having a rest on the bench. I introduced myself and said I wanted to talk to them about God and what they imagined would happen when they died. All of the skaters rushed off to skate again except for Ryan (whom I had spoken to a week or two earlier) and a guy named Todd. Todd was open to questions and offered ideas about what might happen after death and a vague belief that there was a God. I asked him if he thought he was good enough to go to heaven and he thought he was. We covered the nature of the Bible, the Ten Commandments and the fact that by God’s standard of goodness he was bad and in direct danger of God’s punishment. He seemed to understand this. At this point Ryan interjected ( he had been quietly listening) and said “so if we are all going to hell anyway, why do you bother coming to talk to us about God?” I turned the conversation directly into the logic of Ryan’s question and answered that “I actually believe that I am not going to hell and that there is great hope that you don’t have to either”. Now Ryan was interested, hell seemed to have him worried and it was a perfect opportunity to explain Jesus’ atoning work in paying for the sins of his people, under all the agony and pain of God’s anger and how this sacrifice plus Jesus perfect righteousness, is imputed – paid into the account of believers – those who see their sinfullness and the perfect meeting of their spiritual needs in the person and work of Jesus, the Lamb of God. I used the analogy of me being broke and Ryan putting his money into my account by direct deposit. Both Ryan and Todd listened and seemed genuinely interested and concerned. As soon as we left, the rest of the skaters came back to debrief with Ryan and Todd and share a few laughs about the unusual Christians they had just encountered. I encouraged Ryan and Todd to keep looking into these things and come along to my church to hear God’s word preached. Todd took a Bible. I strategically placed a FSC card on a random BMX. You never know.

Second encounter was with a couple of young ladies walking the boardwalk for exercise. Sarah and Kate stopped when I told them I wanted to chat and ask them a few questions about God and whether they were good people or not. They explained some background of attending a Church based private school and very little knowledge of God or His word the Bible. They both thought they were pretty good and would probably make it to heaven. They answered honestly about their own inability to keep the law as Jesus applied it and unfolded it to include their motivations and intentions. They admitted among other things to being liars, thieves, coveters and worshippers of idols. They could see that sin was real in their lives and that by the standard of God they weren’t good at all. They were a little worried about the prospect of facing God after death having broken his Law. I explained hell to them and some of the things that Jesus said about it. I explained that as law breaking sinners they had nothing else to look forward to. They continued to seem concerned and at that point I explained that I was a bad person too but I didn’t fear death because I expect to go to heaven. Someone else had taken my deserved punishment, suffered hell and God’s anger in my place. I asked them if they knew about Jesus and how he was the sin offering. They didn’t. I explained that by believing in Him, who he said he was and what he did and seeing my great need for his righteousness and the payment that he made for sin in his death on the cross, that I was promised eternal life. I explained that I wanted them to experience that life – a life without fear of death – a life at peace with your creator. They said thanks for sharing and we walked on leaving them with no Bibles but an encouragement to read the ones they already had. Their church school background seemed to have prepared them somewhat to listen to stuff about God and I was really encouraged by their honesty and sincere listening.

Pray for Sarah and Kate, Ryan and Todd as they are challenged by the claims of Jesus the Word.

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7 Responses to Parkhour: Sowing seeds – Watering Seeds – Looking for Life

  1. Zac says:

    Hey this was a reeeaaally good read. The Isaac mentioned in the piece wasn’t my very own was it??

    I’m convinced you are doing a good thing, and continue to be so inclined. I might come observe soon.

    Keep up God’s work.

    Zac

  2. Thanks Zac

    We will advertise an organised walk up evangelism time soon. It is a great chance to develop evangelism skills – and also actually do evangelism.

    Dan

  3. Ian says:

    I’m uncomfortable with your approach having been on the end of it myself a few times. I’m not doubting your authenticity but don’t you think “set up our own contrived encounters where we purposefully present the viewer with a range of scenarios and possible thought out Christian responses” is a bit disengenious?

    You may not agree with this however this seems like a more honest and straight forward way of living and loving like Jesus – http://www.paulvieira.info/blog/16/Converting-other-people

    Cheers,
    Ian

  4. Josh says:

    Thanks for the comment Ian. Perhaps you misunderstood my meaning and as I read over my blog I can see that it is more than a little ambiguous. Let me explain a little. I am uncomfortable with shoving a camera in prospective converts faces. I don’t want to bring any offence to an evangelical encounter other than the offence of the cross i.e. you’re a sinner, hell bound, under God’s righteous judgement and you must repent of your sins and believe in the righteousness and atonement of Jesus. Therefore I aim to be a loving, understanding, honest and congenial evangelist.
    I thought that recording conversations between an evangelist and a “devil’s advocate” someone who can articulate accurately some of the objections that different sorts of unbelievers throw at the gospel presentation would be a good tool for others who want to evangelise to think about how they might reply to certain sorts of objections. It would be transparently presented as a “fake” encounter and would not be used as an “ingenuous” tool of deception to trick people into believing or provide a fast food formula for pre packaged evangelism encounters.

    I think a lot of people are actually a lot less personally affronted when they get to watch two actors talking about stuff than when they have to verbalise those same objections themselves… after all we do seem to have become a society where we live much of our lives watching other people doing and saying stuff and this powerfully shapes our opinions and perspective. Why not use the media to challenge the worldly philosophies and objections of modern science to the exclusive claims of Bible. Why not use acting to teach and model truth in action?

  5. Ian says:

    Of course, my mistake. It is a common technique used in a whole range of helping professions also. I can remember chatting to my wife some time ago about the use of professional actors in scenarios related to speech and language deficits.

    It’s probably a bit soon to ask but what did you think of the article referenced in my earlier email?

  6. Ian, here is my take on the link.

    The following quote really sums up where the author is coming from:

    I think God is bigger than my efforts at converting other people. He is able to show Himself to an honest heart who seeks Him. I don’t have to manipulate or strive to convert anyone. I just have to be me and love people for who they are. Knowing and serving people is valuable in and of itself, and there is no need to assign greater spiritual value to a relationship by making that person the object of my personal mission to save the world. Jesus loved, fed, healed and touched whoever came across his path no matter if the followed him or not. We should be the same.

    Well salvation is of the Lord. You can’t ever convert anyone. Relationship is important in being as faithful as we can be in communicating the gospel. Jesus did do all those things, but more than that, he was know as a teacher: he spoke the truth. I am concerned that this article promotes a ‘just be Jesus to them’ gospel at the sake of speaking the gospel message.

  7. Ian says:

    Thanks Daniel for your reply. I could go on with another round to clarify aspects of the difference I see between what you are doing and how I see things … but what would be the point? There are plenty of other sites on the Internet where Christians have a go at each other because of perceived differences of opinion. I hope things go really well with you mate and with your colleagues in being hope and light to the people you have relationships with.

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