I once ate a pink carnation on the streets of Germany in an attempt to draw a crowd to listen to our DTS outreach. It was a dramatic illustration that led into an evangelistic message and I cannot recall if it was effective, but it did give me indigestion. That was a number (that shall remain unspoken) of years ago, when YWAM was still best known as the missions organisation that did street dramas.
This edition of the International YWAMer focuses on how YWAM is approaching evangelism today. Recognising the changes in culture and attitude towards Christianity, YWAMer’s have applied their innate resourcefulness to the task of drawing the attention of this generation to the timeless message of the gospel on any street corner, in any nation. Sure, we’re still doing street drama where it is effective, but we’ve been able to highlight a few other intriguing ideas in this edition.
What about you? What are you doing to meet people who don’t know Jesus and bring Him up in conversation? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us. Your idea could inspire others. And while you’re doing that, give us some feedback on the International YWAMer – what can we do to make it reflect your YWAM life and connect you with the rest of the mission more effectively?
And, if you’d like to try the pink carnation strategy, email me at the IY for details!
by Danny Lehmann
I once saw a cartoon depicting an “Evangelism Research Laboratory” where computer-genius type people were running around inputting and receiving data, consulting in backrooms and busily searching for the latest, greatest, creative ways to “do” evangelism. Suddenly one bright looking young fellow came running in from a back room enthusiastically reporting that he had found the answer to all their research. “We’ve got it! We’ve discovered it! Evangelism is telling people about Jesus!”
YWAM by its very nature and calling is “visionary” – seeking to do new things in new ways (YWAM values #5). Consequently, we will always be looking for creative ways to arrest the attention of those we are trying to reach with our message. However, we must always strive to have a synthesis of what Jesus called “new and old treasures” (Matt. 13:52). In other words, while changing the wineskin – don’t mess with the wine! (Matt. 9:16-17)
With the above in mind, let me suggest that your “wineskin” could take at least 7 different shapes into what I will call witnessing “styles” (thanks to Mark Middleburg for getting me started on this). In YWAM, we have multiple examples about how each of these approaches can effectively help people meet Jesus.
1. The Intentional Style – Our Impact World Tour ministry (see www.impactworldtour.com) is a great example of the synthesis described above. While making no apologies about communicating crucial issues like the cross, the blood, the resurrection and the need for repentance and faith, they combine their outreaches with creative approaches using dance, drama, bike & skate demonstrations and feats of strength. These all function as “interest doors” through which we can walk with the Gospel.
I would like to take this opportunity to put in a word of support for good, old-fashioned street evangelism. There is a rumour going around that street evangelism “doesn’t work” anymore. I find, however, that simply going on the streets and meeting new people will give me the chance to walk through the doors of the other 6 evangelism styles. (See following article for a glimpse at new street evangelism strategies – Ed.)
2. The Interpersonal Style – Also known as “friendship evangelism”. Many YWAMers suffer from “staff infection”! This is the disease of being so busy doing ministry work that we forget about our purpose which is to see people come to Christ! If you are too busy in your ministry to make friends with non-believers than you are too busy! I have heard many glorious examples of people in the neighbourhoods of YWAM bases come to Christ because YWAMers were involved in things they were interested in – sports, schools, local politics. In other words, live like normalpeople as Christ ambassadors in the world.
3. The Invitational Style – This is simply inviting people to an event that may draw them to an interest in the Lord. Many YWAM ministries host their own events (like a concert, play, meal, etc.) but there are many options. Several recent mainstream movies have provided thought provoking questions about the issues of life which can lead to important conversations. The invitational style is a bit less threatening and can be used by the shyer among us.
4. The Intellectual Style – YWAM needs to return to campuses! I was recently visiting an American university and I found it fascinating to interact with Muslims, agnostics, atheists and others who had intellectual objections to the Gospel. I found that many of their objections could easily be answered by some simple research and basic apologetics. Like Paul did with the Greeks at the Areopogus (Acts 17), we need to use our minds to engage the intellectual challenges people have to the faith.
5. The Testimonial Style – Sociologists are alerting us to the fact that young people today would rather listen to a story than hear a proposition. Not only is the Bible full of stories but we have our own story as well. We need to tell it! You never know when your story may relate to the story of the person that you are engaging in conversation. Our testimony, in addition to engaging people on a personal level, is a weapon in spiritual warfare (Rev. 12:11).
6. The Demonstrational Style – One of our workers in South East Asia was seeking to serve the village to which God had sent her. As she searched for the “felt needs” of the community she found that a large percentage of the annual rice crop was being eaten by rats. As she sought the Lord for a solution to this dilemma the Lord simply spoke to her to go out and buy some cats. To make a long story short: the cats ate the rats, the rice crop multiplied and many people were hungry to know her God as a result of the wisdom that she showed. “He that is wise, wins souls.” (Proverbs 11:30). Often times it is by demonstrating the love of God either before or in addition to explaining about the love of God that we show the wisdom that it takes to win people to Christ.
7. The Supernatural Style – According to the apostle Paul, the good news about Christ is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). My son, Daniel, was on an Impact World Tour outreach in Fiji a few months ago and was leading worship. After the session, he noticed two young Indian men that had come for prayer but were not engaged by counsellors. He jumped off the platform, started talking to them, and immediately had several “words of knowledge” come into his mind with some privileged information regarding these two men, who were brothers. God spoke to him about the men’s childhood, their relationship with their father and their fears of the repercussions of what would happen if they were to become Christians. He gave them the gospel, told them to go home and to count the cost and come back the next night to the meeting. They did, were reconciled to their father, came back to the meeting and received Jesus Christ into their lives. Paul said, “we did not come to you with enticing words of man’s wisdom but in demonstration of the spirit and of power so that your faith does not stand in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
We need to be creative, innovative and open to the Holy Spirit showing us how to do new things in new ways. But the bottom line in all styles of evangelism is the question that was brought up in our opening cartoon; when was the last time you told someone about Jesus?
Danny is YWAM’s International Ministries director for Evangelism and the Dean of the College of Christian Ministries for the University of the Nations.
” Say What? “
American evangelist D.L. Moody (1837-1899) said about evangelism, “I like the way I’m doing it better than the way you are not doing it!”
So, what are you doing? How are you and your base making opportunities to talk to people about Jesus? Tell us at : email@example.com
by Yan Nicholls
Street evangelism in the 1970s was fairly easy. All you had to do was grab a guitar and a bunch of YWAMers and hit the streets. It worked because of three things: God said to do it, there were very few others on the street performing so it was easy to get a crowd and the culture was more Christian.
Times have changed. We’ve shifted from entirely event-based evangelism to a balance of relational evangelism and event evangelism. We have recognized that people come to Christ through a process. It has been said that the average western person hears the gospel seven times over a period of two years before they respond. Of those responding, 84% do so through relationship with a friend or relative.
Young people today want to see, touch and smell Christianity working in our lives. Paul said “be challenged by the good qualities you see in me.” (1 Cor 4:16). If we want people to be challenged by our faith, we need to be authentic.
Yet, as culture changes some core values never do. We don’t do evangelism with numbers and targets in mind; it’s about personal relationships with people and with Jesus. And we should always hear and obey God’s voice in evangelism opportunities.
So, what are we doing now?
As YWAM we need to constantly be looking to do new things in new ways. YWAMers today have no less passion for Jesus and their desire to share His love with others is inspiring creative new evangelism strategies. Here are a few things we are trying in the UK…
As we pursue new means of sharing the gospel and hold onto eternal values we hope to see missions in the future have even more radical impact than in the 1970’s.
Yan is the director of ETEAM, a ministry of YWAM England.
by Stephanie Ward
“Most people are used to hearing the Gospel from a preacher in a black suit, but God can use any vessel for His work, even ones who are broken and full of tattoos,” said Peter Warren, base director of YWAM Denver, Colorado, USA. This revolutionary vision laid the groundwork for Circle of Belief’s latest production JESUSFREAKS, a compelling documentary that traces the lives of the 45 students of the 2008 Snowboard DTS. The film starts with recordings of the 911 calls on December 9, 2007, when a gunman entered a dorm at the YWAM centre and opened fire, killing two people and injuring two others. The film then follows the boarders through their school as they wrestle not only with God, but also with each other on a five-month journey of finding themselves in Christ. “JESUSFREAKS is raw and in your face but it shows the transformation that takes place in a DTS. It really brings glory to God,” Warren said.
Co-producers Katherine and Charles Cobb started the project in January 2006 with a vision to reach today’s “millennial generation” and show them that following Jesus is not necessarily about long skirts and button-up shirts. The Cobbs had no previous snowboarding or producing experience. In fact, they didn’t even own a computer three years ago. “We had no idea what we were doing,” Katherine said, “but God chose us because we didn’t have fear. That’s the culture of boarders. They’re risk-takers. I mean, they’ll jump off the side of a mountain! That’s what it’s like with Jesus, you just have to jump in and have no fear.” The film features the rough counterculture of snowboarding with “disarming” honesty. The students struggle through substance abuse, broken relationships, homosexuality and trauma, boldly sharing their testimonies on camera. There is no hero, no sugarcoating, just the realness of Jesus.
John Murphy, the DTS director, said, “That’s what it’s all about…Being real with God, real with ourselves, and real with each other.” To him, this DTS stood out because the boarders refused to settle for mediocrity. They reached out and seized the victories God gave them. Murphy said, as leaders, “We wouldn’t let them just be because we wanted to see them reach their full potential and see them be the people God had intended them to be.”
JESUSFREAKS will be opening at the University of the Nations-Kona on February 27, 2009. The film will start out being shown at YWAM bases and churches, with the goal of making it to the big screen and secular media. “We think it will shake up the church, and we hope that it will,” said Warren. There are also plans in the making to develop JESUSFREAKS into a reality TV series. For more information, visit www.jesusfreaksmovie.com
“We all are potential communicators.”
For six year the C.R.I.T. (Communications, Research & Information Technology) network has been focused on improving communication throughout YWAM and to the public by training and connecting people. CRIT events bring about new communications platforms and launch new initiatives both locally and internationally.
Interested in exploring your potential as a communicator? C.R.I.T. will be hosting an event at YWAM Hopeland in Jinja, Uganda, from 26 April to 02 May. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or go to www.crit.ywamcommunication.org
What Does YWAM Think?
Do you have ideas for future issues of the IY or great stories to post on ywam.org news? How about photos of YWAMers doing something other than grinning at a camara? Don’t keep them to yourself! Email us at email@example.com.
In the April issue of the IY we will be looking at the challenge of “earning a living by faith” in a global recession…tell us your experiences and help YWAM stay connected!
Send your interesting photos to the IY at : firstname.lastname@example.org
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The International YWAMer is a publication of YWAM International. Views expressed by the writers do not necessarily represent the views of Youth With A Mission.
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