In the mood for a laugh? I wrote a tongue-in-cheek essay about some kinds of evangelism that (it would seem) come straight from the pages of Scripture. Enjoy!
While writing definitions and researching etymologies for the Dictionary of Christianese, I like to study a cluster of closely related terms all at the same time. So, for example, when I was researching arrow prayer, I was also looking for information about bullet prayer, dart prayer, flash prayer, and missile prayer. By studying several related terms all at once, it helps me to study the subtle differences between similar yet distinct Christianese terms. It’s also easier for me to focus and stay productive if I’m reading and thinking about several similar words at the same time.
But sometimes this strategy of studying multiple words at once conspires against me. I learned my lesson well a few months ago when I tried to research the terms “smoking hot wife” and “gift of singleness” on the same afternoon. Talk about trying to drive with the parking brake on!
So these past few weeks I’ve been studying the words that Christians use to refer to different types of evangelism. For example, you’ve probably heard of Lifestyle Evangelism, Friendship Evangelism, and Service Evangelism. But how about Drama Evangelism and Workplace Evangelism?
If you’re a Christian of a certain age, do you remember the hubbub a few decades ago over Body-Life Evangelism, Crusade Evangelism, Bus Evangelism, and Power Evangelism?
I’ve compiled a list of over 300 different Christianese terms for various types of evangelism, and it’s got me wondering whether Jesus and his disciples used any of the evangelistic methods that we use today. And it turns out that they did!
Jesus was a pioneer in the use of Beach Evangelism. Jesus was so hard-core, he didn’t wait around for spring break or summer vacation. Jesus and his evangelism team conducted beach reaches year-round.
Jesus also made huge use of Gastro-Evangelism. At his crusades there was always a ridiculous amount of food to draw in the crowds. The leftovers were so plentiful that Luke 17:37 is actually Bible Code for all the crows and vultures that used to come in and clean up the leftover food when Jesus and his support staff trucked off to the next town.
Jesus pretty much invented Power Evangelism, which is when you perform exorcisms and miraculous healings in order to prove the truth of the gospel. Jesus’s signature move at his evangelistic rallies was when he cast demons out of anyone who came forward while the worship band played “Just As I Am.”
These three biblical examples of evangelism are also modern-day Christianese terms (click on them to visit their actual definitions). Well, thinking about those real kinds of evangelism got me thinking imaginatively of ways that the Bible can still teach us to do evangelism today. So now here are three biblical models of evangelism that just might work in today’s day and age. To be clear, I made up the following three kinds of “evangelism”—but they sure seem like they could be biblically based, if you’re willing to use your imagination!
Tylenol Evangelism: Jesus cured Peter’s mother-in-law of a wicked migraine and everybody worshiped God afterward. Christians today should carry around bottles of Tylenol and visit local Department of Motor Vehicles and Chuck-E-Cheese’s asking if anyone feels a headache coming on. When someone says yes, we give them a tablet and tell them, “The Kingdom of Heaven has come nigh unto you.”
Joy Ride Evangelism: Philip climbed into a dude’s chariot and successfully shared the Four Laws with him. So instead of hanging out on the street corners handing out tracts, Christians should take the gospel into the actual streets and try pulling on door handles. Surely God will provide an “open door” at least some of the time. (This model of evangelism has the potential to become a Prison Ministry!)
Knock Down Drag Out Evangelism: The apostle Paul didn’t convert to Christianity until he was clotheslined off his donkey by the Holy Spirit. Jesus says he will knock and then enter, and is there really that much difference between a “knock” and a “knockout”? There are plenty of Christian MMA champions such as Ben Henderson, Vitor Belfort, and Jon Jones who would gladly disciple a new army of “Lord’s Gym” evangelists. And besides, doesn’t “The Narthex” already sound like a venue for a cage match?
What other creative and possibly hilarious evangelism methods do we read about in Scripture that we could implement today? Post your ideas in the comments.