Bawling evangelism

Every evangelism encounter is different. Yesterday I walked up to an elderly man and woman sitting in their car waiting for the bowling centre to open. I talked with them in as natural a way as possible through the car window. The lady did something I have never encountered before – she bawled her eyes out as she recounted how unfair God has been to wards her. Her lament over all her injustices lasted for about 10 minutes. I did my best to empathise but also kindly show her, between sobs, that both she and I were not good people either.

She was a Church attendee but had a very poor understanding of the Gospel in answer to some basic questions. Her tears were not tears of repentance but tears of rage against God in that He had not fixed her problems in answer to her long prayers. It was sort of pastoral/evangelism – I don’t envy the job of a pastor who has Christians with all sorts of ideas and they have to somehow guide them to the truth. Any suggestions from pastoral folk about this sort of thing are welcome!


10 Responses to Bawling evangelism

  1. Oh, man. I can only imagine… the pastor would have to talk about the aligning of the will with God, the tests to see if one is really a Christian, etc., etc., etc.

  2. georgiearm says:

    I admire your courage Dan.
    My first thoughts in response to this ladies’ perspective, is that there are two questions that might be asked of her.
    1st – “why do you feel that you deserve a better hand than you’ve been dealt?”
    2nd – “Is the Christian life about having our every request granted – or is it about being given grace to respond to circumstances outside our control in a way that reflects the character of Christ (and brings glory to God)?”
    I think there are a large group of poorly taught “Christians” that view Jesus as the Genie they invited into their heart. Not Lord. And when rubbing it 3 times (prayer) doesn’t seem to be getting their wishes granted… they are ready to evict Him pronto.

  3. Pastor Chris says:

    I’d invite a further conversation. At that moment, in the midst of expressing her tears and rage is not about engaging in theological banter, but rather being present in the grief.

    After listening for a while and earning the privelege to be heard, I’d invite a followup visit/chat/appointmnet/conversation where we can explore the pain a little further and start building bridges to the gospel.

    I wouldn’t do this on the first encounter — i’ve not yet earned the right to be heard.

    I’ve been in this woman’s shoes in a sense, totally angry at God for whatever reasons. The cynicalness in my heart at the time would have been angry at well meaning christians trying to diagnose me, offer cliche filled scripturisms, or even asking questions without first agreeing the validity of my beef with God. It’s just not the right time.

    There is a time to work thru it, to talk Scripture, to talk about God’s promises, but when the angry emotions are railing against God is, in my experience, not the right time.

    Pastor Chris

  4. PyroPenguin says:

    Well hello there everybody.
    wow what would I have done in that situation? or what could I suggest?
    nothing that Georgiearm has not already covered… great stuff Dan,
    it is so heart breaking to think that there are people who are church attending /confecing Christians that have such a warped view of God.
    ie. a magic genie that if he gets rubbed “prayer” just the right way we will have all our problems fixed.
    from my point of view, she is the Rom.9:21 “Pot telling the Potter what to do!”

    a saying that fits this topic is “the Truth will set you free, BUT believing a lie will put you in to bondage”
    If she is saved she still has a very warped view of God and the Gospel…and she must think that she is GOOD and deserves better.

    2Co 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds,
    2Co 10:5 pulling down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ

    we all need to use the hammer of the Law to smash down the “strongholds of wrong imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God”
    it is only after the high walls of wrong thinking have been smashed down, that a person can see the Gospel.

    ok I waffled on for to long already so I better waddle off…

    PyroPenguin signing off
    “If you can’t articulate the Gospel, then you are not saved by the Gospel”

  5. georgiearm says:

    I wonder – can any one think of an example from scripture where someone presented in such a way? Perhaps we can draw a lesson from THE evangelist Himself.

  6. Chris

    Good advice on following up with her later. It’s something that I am coming around to seeing as a valuable thing that evangelists can do. The idea of giving people more time to seriously examine their questions could be vital part of my ministry that I have not yet investigated. I have been of the mind that all they need is the biblical gospel – God can do the rest – but the act of following up with someone you have witnessed to (even on the street) could be worthwhile.

    I was careful to show the lady that I cared and I tried to show I understood how much pain she had felt. I didn’t want to get stuck there – I had the feeling that she was used to that sort of thing from Christians around her when she told her tale. It had a hint of a broken record (this was my assumption – I could have been wrong).

    Thanks Chris – that’s wise advice.

  7. Following her up to seek for her answers may be a good thing.

    But the thing that comes to mind is a Ray Comfort message that says that follow-up is unbiblical. I’m talking about the follow-up where you chase a new believer to see if they are in the faith. If you evangelized correctly the first time, they should remain in the faith. Notice that the Ethiopian eunuch left in the desert was without follow-up.

    To listen to the sermon that has this message, to go
    It’s either “How to Get on Fire for God” or “Militant Evangelism”- I think the former. Also make sure to listen to “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” and “True and False Conversion.” PLEASE LISTEN TO IT- it won’t be a waste of your time.

    Also visit my blog at and listen to Paul Washer’s sermon “Youth Evangelism Conference 2002”- it’s the most powerful message I have EVER listened to.

  8. I know where Ray is coming from in saying that he does not believe in ‘follow up’. He qualifies it in HBKS as being ‘the arduous task of taking evangelists from the harvest to deal with people who have responded to an alter call.’

    What I have been learning about ‘follow up’ is that the evangelist is not just called to share a faithful gospel message one on one – sometimes they might be required to spend more time with that person.

    I totally believe that the most important thing is that they hear a biblical presentation of the gospel – but can we just assume that that is it? Lets invite the people we share the gospel with into our life and into the life of our Church.

  9. Ps. Have a look @ Josh’s commentary on a recent Paul Washer message and let us know what you think.


  10. In response to post #1, that is why I was very careful to say that “following her up to seek for her answers may be a good thing.” If you are just going to press them, that should most definitely be done. “Follow-up” would be if she repented and professed Christ as Savior and two weeks later you went to see if she was reading her Bible.
    Just so we’re clear, Dan, I agree with you. 😀

    On post #2: Wow. That “little” commentary was huge. But I see what he’s getting at and if you read my post, you’ll find that I agree- our salvation is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8). None of our salvation is of us, it is all from God.

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