Would I like who I would become is often the first question

One the seminars I went to at the National Outreach Conference a few weeks ago was entitled something like “Spiritual Formation as Evangelism.” I had never heard of the lad before, Todd Hunter, (he kind of looked like Darryl Hammond from SNL from a distance) but was quite impressed by his knowledge, experience, and presentation. He was arguing that we need to examine the main questions non-believers are asking. Traditionally folks have broken them down into two major categories.

1.) Is God real?
2.) What difference would it make if I believed in that God? Would I even like who I would become?

Most often we deal with the first. In the 80’s that really worked. Crusades, Lord-Liar-Lunatic arguments, and the like. But now the questions people are asking really are reversed. In other words, people are seeking to know “Does this Jesus make me care more or care less about the world, justice, humanity, love, beauty, truth?” If that is not the case, then they really aren’t up for hearing arguments about His existence/character/involvement in world. The presenter’s point was not to scrap apologetics (his buddy Lee Stroebel was in the room next door lecturing on Apologetics), but to make sure we reverse the order in which we answer the questions.

If people can see that Christ really does make us less judgmental, more caring, more concerned for mercy, more loving, truly free (question 2) then they will be more open to discussing HOW we got that way (question 1). Christ, the perfect human, molds us into what it means to be more fully human, not less.

As president of Alpha-USA, he interviews a lot of folks involved in outreach. One of his examples was Inter-Varsity. Apparently all the college folks who came to faith and became involved in IV, first came as a result of some sort of mercy/justice/creation care/mission project. You mean you care about the Earth, the poor, justice, love, and you’re willing to put TIME into doing something about it? That was their first question. They didn’t want to believe in a God who doesn’t care about that stuff. Fortunately our God does, and these believers showed them that through their lives.

It shows the need to not only invite folks to attractional (paintball, parties, get-togethers)/apologetic events (outward focused bible studies), but also through things like Habitat for Humanity, Operation Christmas Child/Angel Tree, cleaning the road, book/movie/philosophy discussions, environmental care projects, etc…

2 thoughts on “Would I like who I would become is often the first question

  1. I think the church universal in the US lost a lot of its appeal over the last 30 years because despite the necessity of taking a stand on the issues that Religious Right took a stand on, those issues weren’t connected to outreach in helping people that were involved in those things (if somebody’s gay, help them to work through it, if somebody’s pregnant, help them, if somebody’s stuck in massive poverty, do something about it, etc)…Good point…

  2. Rarely do Rebekah and I see 100% eye to eye, but I have to give a big AMEN to her comment! Even today I hear a lot more talk about the “problem” of homosexuality or the “problem” of poverty, yet I don’t see much action in any of these buzz areas. I don’t have all the solutions, in fact, I don’t have ANY solutions. All I know is that I am glad that Jesus talked about lust to the Righteous and then hung out with the prostitutes.

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