How do you respond to the word evangelism? Does it evoke excitement and joy? Or does it spark guilt and dread? Cheri & Amy discuss their past experiences– the good, the bad, and the very, very ugly. Based on the model in B.L.E.S.S.: 5 Everyday Ways to Love Your Neighbor and Change the World, by Dave and Jon Ferguson, they also process the paradigm shift that they experienced in seeing evangelism in a new way. No more converter guilt for them… or you!

 

 

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  • Episode #212 Transcript — coming soon!

 

Your Turn

  • Have you experienced converter guilt? Why or why not?
  • Which of the 5 ways to bless your neighbor will you start with?
  • How can your gifts and personality be used to bless your neighbors?
  • How could changing our focus from converting to blessing take the sting out of the spiritual discipline of evangelism?

Featured Authors —
Dave & Jon Ferguson

Dave Ferguson is an award-winning author and lead pastor of Community Christian Church in Chicago.

He also provides visionary leadership for the international church-planting movement NewThing and is the president of the Exponential Conference.

You can connect with Dave through the B.L.E.S.S. website, on Facebook, and via Instagram.

 

As the co-founding pastor of Community Christian Church in Chicago, Jon Ferguson serves as one of its lead teaching pastors and provides leadership in new ventures.

Jon has also helped co-launch NewThing and serves on the board of directors for the Exponential Conference.

You can connect with Jon through the B.L.E.S.S. website, on Facebook, and via Instagram.

 

Transcript — scroll to read here (or download above)

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Grit ‘n’ Grace — The Podcast

Episode #212: How to Take the Pressure Off Yourself in Evangelism

 

Note:  This is a machine-generated transcript that is only about 60-70% accurate. 

 

Amy Carroll

So our conversation last week with Dave and john Ferguson, who are the authors of bless five ways. Five everyday ways to love your neighbor and change the world was so fantastic. Didn’t you love it

 

Cheri Gregory

was you know, it was mind blowing in its simplicity. Like afterwards, I was like, Okay, what were all the new things they taught me that I didn’t know before. And I realized it wasn’t that everything was new. It was just presented in? Well, first of all, they combine things together in a way I hadn’t quite seen them before. And yeah, especially in such a complex world right now. The simplicity really got to me, I was like, This is doable. This is completely doable.

 

Amy Carroll

Yes, because it is simple, but I wasn’t doing it. Simple and

 

Cheri Gregory

easy are two very different things. Let’s be clear.

 

Amy Carroll

Exactly, exactly. And I think both of us were so taken by the dissertation that they referenced at the beginning. Yeah, some research. He word girls just loved that. And so just to review, for our listeners who may not have heard the last episode, they were referencing a dissertation, where they studied two separate groups of missionaries that went with sort of two different philosophies. One was a group of what they call blessed sirs. And those people went on mission just to do good in their culture and share the Jesus in the process. The other ones were converters, who went to tell the culture about Jesus. And what they found, is after a period of about two years, let’s see. Yeah, after about a period of two years, they found that the blesses had not only changed the culture for the good, but they had also had 50 times as many conversions. Isn’t that amazing? And I was just so struck by that, because I thought, oh, wow, I have gone about this incorrectly and with misconceptions the whole time and Sherry used this term that you seem very angsty about, that you’ve been living with converter guilt, say, define that for us and tell us how that’s impacted you over the years? Well,

 

Cheri Gregory

you know, for me, I was raised in a church where it was very important to be telling people about Jesus and getting those gold stars and being able to report what you had done to your to your teacher each week. And, and that just never felt, right. I mean, there was a lot of printed material that was supposed to be passed out. And there were big evangelical meetings that were held with lots of rah rah and and the older I got, the more I thought, we just dragging them into dunk them and then and then basically dumped them wherever they came back from. I mean, I’m not really meaning to slam public evangelism. But it seems so much more important to get them in there to fill the chairs and to get them to listen to us. And I think that’s the thing that really hit me the most listening to Dave and john. And for me that the whole converter mentality really ingrained in me the importance of being right, which of course, already, you know, that works well, with my natural wiring, you know, I am predisposed to like being right. And then also if I was right, than other people were wrong. And it was my job to get them to admit that they were wrong. And somehow that would bring them to Jesus. Now, the details got really hazy, and they’re like, how getting somebody to admit that they were wrong would bring them to Jesus. But that’s just kind of, I guess, my inventory view of it. Or maybe that’s where the process broke down. So the key, the key I knew was always being right. And so you know, the game I alluded to, during our interview, I mean, this was something that we spent time in youth group doing like two of us would get up front and face each other and the rest of the group would be cheering us on one hand out, and that would be the Bible, other hand behind your back and it was called sword in hand. And the leaders would call out an obscure Bible verse and then that’s when it was like family feud. That’s when you’re you could swing your hand around and start paging through your Bible. And whoever could point to the right verse, first one, and I’m not saying it is so important to know our Bibles, it is so important to be able to find what God really said in his word, but for me, that’s kind of where it stopped. Like, okay, I could I can find it now. I couldn’t use it. And unfortunately, it developing into kind of a spiritual pride, and that because I could find the right verse faster than anybody else. And so here’s the thing that I realized Listening to john and wait

 

 

a minute on.

 

Cheri Gregory

This is what I realized listening to Dave and john. Um, as long as I’m right, then I get to do all the talking and I don’t have to listen, like, oh, gosh, that’s kind of the mentality that came in. And so, you know, I used to think that my converter guilt was because I hadn’t won enough souls for Christ. But I think it’s really, the more I thought about it since the interview, I think it really is a legitimate guilt for kind of acting and thinking like kind of a smarmy salesperson, like with it all being about me. And so I loved the way they said, take the pressure off, put the converter guilt, and I’ll add my own little note and the converter pride aside, and simply be a good friend, use these practical tools that you can find in the book to build those friendships, and just kind of see what God does.

 

 

So powerful.

 

Cheri Gregory

So what conversion efforts have you been a part of? And what were the what were the outcomes? I can’t be the only super converter who actually never converted around here.

 

Amy Carroll

Right? Well, so I grew up in a denomination that was more about private faith. And so I didn’t grow up in that kind of evangelical converter world. So I didn’t experience what you did quite as much. But, of course, we do feel like we have something valuable. We know we have something valuable this relationship with Jesus. So I’m not sure in that private faith world how anybody’s ever supposed to know that because, you know, that anyway, and then, um, but when I went to college, I was very much part of a church that was into this conversion mindset and this evangelism mindset. And there were there were things like, I remember having that little booklet and I can’t remember, I think it might have been Campus Crusade that published it. It’s four spiritual laws, I would had several of those, you know, tucked away in my backpack. And, and but here’s the thing that you just said, that resonates with me, as you said, you felt like you had to be right. And my fear that kept me from sharing is I never felt like I knew enough. Mm hmm. So that’s what that those little booklets although well intentioned and effective in some ways, right? I don’t want to just count all of this. But it, it always made me feel like I didn’t know enough. And I had to have the little booklet with me to you know, remind me of what I didn’t know, my aunt. And I think I’ve said it on here before she cracks me up. She always says, I’m a slow learner and a fast forgetter. And I am a slow learner and a faster getter. I’m not one who has had been able to memorize a lot of Scripture, although I am devoted to and love scripture and study scripture. So I was always too afraid to share because I didn’t, I knew I wouldn’t be right. I didn’t feel like I knew enough. And what john and Dave shared with us is so freeing because it’s organic.

 

 

Yes.

 

Amy Carroll

And this is where I did see some good things because not all evangelistic efforts are bad. There’s an area, I went to Carolina, which is in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, they Carolina for all the South Carolina people that are listening and think you have the one but anyway. So I went to Carolina, and there’s this area on the campus. It’s with the cafeteria and the Student Union and the student store. And it’s called the pit and it’s like this like indentation and it’s all bricks. And we would have people that all kinds of ministries, lots of Hellfire and brimstone, but some of them really good ministries that would come out and do pit preaching. And they would stand in the middle of the pit during lunchtime, and preach. And so the best evangelism that I had is that we were encouraged to students by the church that I was in, to just sit down beside somebody and listen for a while. So I said, What do you think? Hmm. And you know, really, that’s what john and Dave are encouraging us to do our neighbors because it’s in the listening, that we understand where people are coming from and I had some great conversation was able to plant some seeds in that kind of a setting. That probably wouldn’t have happened if I had whipped out my four spiritual laws book, which again, I’m not slamming that or it is a tool, but I love the organic nature of what they lead us to do. Absolutely. So we can say that we are not super converters. We are not super converters and super in there. Because Listen, we we should be converters in a sense. You know, we want people to come to know Jesus. We’re not saying that. But this idea of some kind of like wearing a cape to do it. That’s the problem right? So, Sherry, lead us in to love who you are here. We’re not super converters, what are we?

 

Cheri Gregory

Alright, so we’re gonna do it a little differently today I’m going to go ahead and review Dave and John’s five points to their acronym bl e s s. And then you’re going to choose your favorite. And I’m going to choose my favorite to say who we are. Okay, so the five points of their acronym RB begin with prayer. Ellison, he eat, I think that was your favorite.

 

 

Yes, for

 

Cheri Gregory

the first S is sir. And this is comes. The concept here was they will tell you how to love them, and then you meet that need. And then S story, our testimony and of course, the gospel. And they said, in many cases, they’ll actually ask you to tell your story. So Amy, based on these, what is your statement, the your love who you are statement?

 

Amy Carroll

Well, eating is definitely one of mine, because my scale is telling me that right now. My pants. But that one aside, my my favorite was the listening one, you are a great listener, and I am saying that completely aspirationally. But as you know, I have been blogging for almost two years on my personal blog at Amy carroll.org about this process that God is taking me through and listen was the first one. So I was just so taken, that God is speaking this same thing to pastors like john and Dave and, and in this book that listening is such an important aspect of that. And so I am saying aspirationally I am a great listener, you are a great listener listening is so you look like you’re having some hives, there’s

 

Cheri Gregory

no there was me rubbing it in

 

 

your itching scratching.

 

Cheri Gregory

Yeah, you know, I suppose I could get you maybe it’s both I’m having an allergic reaction to have the idea of having to listen to some people. But I’m just gonna go ahead and rub it in aspirationally. Because, yeah.

 

Amy Carroll

Well, and you ask them such a great question. He said, But what if we’re listening, and we don’t agree. And in the in the interview, they said, if we look at the life of Jesus, the people he was most likely to correct. Were the religious people who are getting it wrong. Not the people who had had yet to find their way back to him. Oh, my heavens, right? So, and you think about the kindness of Jesus. And I started thinking about the fruits of the Spirit. If we apply those fruits of the Spirit to listening, what does that look like? And it looks like Jesus and the way that he treated people, you know, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, this is not the way that I have listened in the past. And so aspirationally I am saying that I am a great listener.

 

Cheri Gregory

You mean I have to listen to somebody who’s wrong, I have to listen to them with joy.

 

Amy Carroll

Oh, that does sound like a drag? Oh, if we did, what if we listen to them with the joy of understanding them better? Hmm, I have to challenge myself with that. So instead of anchor if I could flip to joy, or actually, if I could ask the Holy Spirit, to transform me to a joyful listener, imagine how that would impact my relationships, our relationships.

 

Cheri Gregory

I had an interesting experience, like the afternoon after we had had our interview with Dave and john, I was standing in line at Trader Joe’s. And their two men came up and stood behind me and one of them could not have been more obviously advertising belief systems that are the opposite of what I believe. That’s all I’m gonna say. I’m just gonna say he had them prominently on display and write t shirts. I could just feel myself doing the old habit of retreating into my bubble of better than you. And unfortunately,

 

Amy Carroll

I’m sorry, visual, I am picturing you in a bubble, the better than you bubble. Anyway, go ahead.

 

Cheri Gregory

And unfortunately, or fortunately, having just talked to Dave and john about listening, I was convicted that I what couldn’t just stay there that even though this this person in my mind was, quote, unquote, wrong. And so I tried to pay more attention. And he was with another man and I realized that he was actually this person’s character. taker or companion, that this was somebody who needed, you know, some extra care and guidance in life. And I could, I caught myself flipping between what I focused on. Am I coming through, okay? I’m feeling choppy here, okay? I could focus on the advertisements of his beliefs, or I could focus on the gentleness with which he was being a caretaker. And one of them led me to listening. And one of them led me to judging. And I realized that part of listening is really noticing and looking for that area. And I thought, yeah, we there’s a bunch of things we should never talk about. But I probably if we sat down over coffee, I could ask him about I couldn’t tell, I was guessing maybe this other person was his brother. And I was betting a story would come that I could listen to. And it challenged me.

 

Amy Carroll

Wow. So looking for the good and others makes us better listeners. That’s a great insight, Sherry.

 

Cheri Gregory

We’ll see. We’ll see. It’s in theory right now. All right. So my statement of love who you are, is you are a witness to the goodness of God. And by witness I mean, I mean, telling our story, but I didn’t. I keep I keep finding myself when I think about telling my story, I realize, but I don’t want it to be about me. And I know that we’re all we know, it’s the Gospel story. We know it’s the greatest story ever told, but that’s why i worded it that way you are a witness your your story allows you to bear witness to the goodness of God. And in the interview, they shared it was at brick breakfast when he shared a story with me. And then I was able to tell him talking about a friend, Michael, I think it was, here’s the place where I found forgiveness. Here’s the place where I’ve even found redemption in my life. And it really opened him up. And I just loved the fact that because he gotten to know Michael well enough, Michael was able to open his heart. And then shoot, I’m forgetting who it was was David. JOHN, I should look this up too. If I’m going to use the example. Hang on a sec. I think it’s Dave. Dave. Okay, thank you. And then Dave was able to share a part of his own story that was relevant, and that would connect in a really authentic and organic way to share where he’s found forgiveness. So rather than being and that conversation had nothing to do with anybody being right, yes. In fact, the only the only one right in that whole story was Jesus, go ahead.

 

Amy Carroll

And it required Dave to be vulnerable about where he has needed forgiveness, which, you know, for a pastor is not an easy thing, right? It’s let’s just acknowledge it’s not an easy thing. So I just respected that vulnerability that he used to forge a connection there so much.

 

Cheri Gregory

Absolutely. So the power of our stories is what I mean here by saying you are a witness to the goodness of God and it’s really not your story of my story, the story of God’s and this is comes from Jeremiah 31 three the story of God’s everlasting love and unfailing kindness. I’m going to pause real quick because I think Daniels Daniels leaving so there’s going to be some door opening and closing and stuff. You know, actually, that’s fine. Um, yeah, let’s just go ahead and move on. Okay. Oh, shoot. That puts me first again, though.

 

Amy Carroll

I bet I’ll just I’ll just let me think about something to say. So. Yeah,

 

Cheri Gregory

good. segue. segue. Yeah,

 

Amy Carroll

that, yeah, I think story is such an incredibly powerful way to connect with people when we will vulnerably share our stories that we can, we can shine the spotlight on Jesus, I talk about that a lot that instead of making ourselves the hero of our own stories, if we’re able to make God or in Jesus, the hero of our stories, then then we’re able to lead people back to him, which was another phrase that they use that I just really, really loved. So Sherry, help us to live our one life Well, what are some questions that we can ask ourselves that will help clarify what we need to do in this situation?

 

Cheri Gregory

Okay, so the first one, when will I pray specifically for my neighbors? And so to make this a habit, I’m thinking decided time isn’t going to be during quiet time is dinner time before bed, but make it a routine and a habit. So when will I pray specifically for my neighbors to is how can I be a better listener back when Daniel was a pastoral intern and he used to do visitation the lead pastor who was training him, taught him to keep three by five cards with him and to always have something to write with so that before he would go into the visitation, he would pull out the card from the last visit and review the details there. And And then afterwards, hit stop and make some notes. So how can I be a better listener, to not just let it go went in one ear and out the other, but to some kind of record. Number three, who can I serve in my neighborhood this week, and I’m combining, eating and serving, maybe bake up something yummy, or pick something up yummy from the store, wrap it up, tuck it in the freezer, so it stays, and then expect the Holy Spirit to prompt you like, but be ready, be ready when that call comes. And then number four, what part of my story does someone need to hear? And in my experience, it’s often the part that I’m loath to tell. And so this is an encouragement to wrestle with our pride so that we’re ready to obey, when the moment comes, that somebody needs to hear that part of our story. So actually, me tell us what to do.

 

Amy Carroll

Well, I was so I’m so struck by your question, Sherry. And I was also struck by what David john said that the things that we’re being asked to do do take time. And I will know one thing I’ve been guilty of in the past is that all my time is wrapped up at church. And so I just loved that. We got to ask them the question like, Are we allowed to, you know, skip some things at church to do this? And, and they said, basically, that they give their communities that permission. Okay, go and be the church, let’s be the the church deployed in our neighborhood. So I took a reminder from you and Kathy, in your book overwhelmed. And I’m saying these questions that you just gave us that we need to put the answers on our calendar to limit the time. So I always just say, think about what what, think about what Sherry just gave us in these questions and what your answers are to these questions, and put them on your calendar, put two of them on your calendar. And the way I would say it this week, like start small, or even one this week is probably more than I’ve done in the past. So start with one, then add two, then add three. One of the things that struck me that they said is that you eat three times a day, seven days a week, and so include somebody else and two of those times what a great practical, easy idea. And you don’t have to come with your four spiritual laws booklet, you just talk to them. What a relief. On the other one that I’ve been doing is that I’ve been trying to walk more. And I’m prayer walking in my neighborhood. So as I walk through my neighborhood, I’m praying, and I want to give just an outside we’ll put this in the show notes. But a tool that has been helping me besides their book, which I cannot wait to get my hands on, is that there’s a website called bless every home calm. And if you go to that, and you put in your address, they will send you every single week, the names of your neighbors to pray for that week, the address that they live at, and a little prayer to pray for each of them. Oh, my goodness, our pastor just gave this to us as a tool. It is so practical, so easy. And so I get that every Thursday, my email box. And this Thursday, Barry Carol was on my list I prayed really hard for him.

 

Cheri Gregory

Oh, that text me it. I love the intentionality of that though. Very, very cool.

 

Amy Carroll

It’s been great. And so Dave and john gave us a scripture for Mark 1233 31 that’s so familiar, but so powerful. Love the Lord your God, with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and with all your strength. And the second is this. Love your neighbor as yourself. There’s no commandment greater than these. Hmm.

 

Cheri Gregory

So what’s the grit for you and all of this, Amy?

 

Amy Carroll

Well, it’s to make it a habit to carve out the time to put it in my calendar often enough, that instead of being so much work all the time, eventually it will simply become a habit but I have to grit through for committing the time to it before it becomes a habit. What’s the grace for you, Sherry,

 

Cheri Gregory

that it really is this simple, quote unquote simple there is no need for converter guilt that we bless and leave the rest up to God.

 

 

So good. That was good.

 

 

 

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One Comment

  1. HALLELUJAH!!!! It’s been a while since I’ve tuned into G&G Girls, but I’m so glad I did. Our church has recently started a bit evangelism push and it’s always been really hard for this introvert to start talking to people full stop, let alone trying converting them. But listening… and offering surplus veggies… I can do that.

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