A few weeks ago I read an amazing article from Salon.com written by a non Christian college student who went undercover as a believer on a missions trip with Liberty University, reaching out to the “lost” people partying during spring break at Daytona Beach, FL . This guy actually enrolled at Liberty (as in “Jerry Falwell’s” Liberty) to learn the inside scoop about evangelicals first hand.
After a few paragraphs I was hooked. I read every word of the lengthy testimonial. This amazing article not only provided amazing insight into the mind of an unbeliever, it proposed glaring questions about the success of this kind of evangelism methodology.
Here’s just a snippet of the article:
When we get to Daytona, Scott guides us through an all-morning training session on the whys and hows of evangelism. We sit on folding chairs in the Sunday School room of First Baptist Church of Daytona Beach, our makeshift headquarters, and eat snack-size bags of pretzels while Scott recites the “Great Commission,” the verse that serves as the architectural frame for all missionary work. It’s found in Matthew 28:19, when Jesus says to his disciples, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
“The first thing you should think when you meet anyone,” Scott says, “is ‘Are they saved?'” It’s safe to assume that almost everyone coming to Daytona for Spring Break is unsaved, he says, adding, “It’s a very dark place out there.”
Before we take our evangelical Delta Force to the beach, though, we need to learn how to witness.
There are several words for what, exactly, will be transpiring here. “Spreading the gospel,” “sharing the faith,” and “evangelizing” are all common terms for the act of attempting to convert non-believers, but “witnessing” seems to be the most all-purpose. (I should say, also, that what we’re doing would strike many Christians as odd. Proselytizing to strangers, which one Christian I know calls “cold-turkey evangelism,” is a dying art, and many evangelicals prefer less confrontational methods of proselytizing. But on this trip, it’s all strangers, all confrontation, all day.)
Fascinating stuff! Well worth the 10 to 15 minutes it could take you to read the whole thing.
When I finished the article, I immediately sent it to my friend Greg Stier from Dare2Share, calling him a few minutes later. Greg is passionate about evangelism and I respect his opinion on the subject (many of you have heard our recent podcast together where we talked about evangelism vs. social justice). After a short conversation about the article I told Greg, “You have to write an article responding to this article, because this article demands answers.”
A few days later I had an 8-page response from Greg in my inbox.
I’ll post Greg’s response next week. But I wanted to give you a head start with the Salon article linked above… I encourage you to read it.