9.24.2006

Misunderstanding

Some not only read my Thursday post as cynical, which it was not meant to be, but some may have also gotten the idea that I have become down on tools or presentations used to communicate the Gospel.

I assure you this is not true. Sadly, many Christians assume that "heartfelt" means the same thing as "making it up on the spot". I have witnessed insensitivity when using Gospel tools like tracts; I have also witnessed incoherence and rambling when someone who eschews their use decides that "winging it" somehow glorifies God more than does preparation.

Imagine a teacher shunning lesson plans to go into class and be "spontaneous and authentic". Or a salesman who, rather than learning his product, how to use it, and commonly asked questions pertaining to it, just goes in cold and makes up a presentation in the moment. Neither would keep their job very long.

So I see a role for tools like tracts, prepared testimonies, and Gospel outlines. Anything that helps us communicate the Gospel better is a good thing. And so is learning how to do so appropriately, with sensitivity.

6 comments:

Stacie said...

I agree--CCC provides tools that are valuable and play a vital role in clearly and effectively sharing the gospel. I too had no intention of sounding as though I am against the resources which we are provided. That said, I must admit that I have come to question the effectiveness of our use of those tools. I am never one to support "winging it"; however, I found myself as well as my team doing that a lot during the first week or two of summer project. Before leaving for SP I was trained in how to present the gospel with the tools provided by Crusade, yet I was completely clueless as to how to share the gospel without those tools--the same was true of the other students on project. In some places, pulling out a booklet (or anything pre-printed for that matter) is the quickest and most effective way to end a conversation, and I feel this should be a factor in deciding how to train students in using CCC tools. I also came to realize that another result of being too reliant upon the booklets was a very disconnected presentation. I don't mean to suggest that I feel that "heartfelt" can be described as "making it up on the spot"--that kind of approach can lead to miscommunication at the very least. I am suggesting that reliance upon material can yield an inconclusive presentation, and that going into a presentation believing that the material itself will hold every answer to any question we may face is a fallacious assumption.

Adam & Anne said...

So memorize the content. The fact is that we are more free to be authentic when we know exactly what we are trying to say.

Matt said...

Perhaps the biggest problem with the four spiritual laws (or the kgp) booklets is that they are simply outdated. Even if we change the title from "4-Laws" to "KGP" the fact is is that they have there origin from two major cultural contexts that are out of date.
1. A overly systematic (I would say scientific, but I stick with systematic for a point) culture. This culture valued everything in step and held the scientific method in high esteem. This culture also saw little value for narrative (a big picture, kind of like a story).
2. The age of the salesman. Not only does Brights gospel presentation have its main origin in hearing a salesman's presentation, but the culture centered around it. This culture was more open, and welcomed even door-to-door salesmen.

Life at Large attempts to relate better to our current culture. It attempts to share the gospel from a narrative point of view, and from a relational context. The problem is that this is telling the narrrative in a systematic way. So it too is incomplete.

Also incomplete, is simply saying "memorize the content". When we say this, we are telling students to memorize the gospel as it was contextualized to a previous generation. Perhaps instead, we teach them to meditate the gospel for what it is, and also teach them to deeply and prayerfully study the culture they live in. This is effect is what Bill Bright did, and why his gospel presentation was so effective in the past.

Adam & Anne said...

Sure, Matt, that is ideal, and I hope in time that happens. But for the first pass, I don't see anything wrong with arming someone with a simple presentation like that. As you yourself know, the more one communicates, or meditates, on the beautiful simplicity of the Gospel, the more authentic it becomes i nyour life and speech.

Any message, before it can be communicated in great detail or even with true passion, has to be foundationally understood, then heartily embraced, and then seamlessly communicated (word and deed).

Contextually, I agree. Pragmatically, though, I still think there are great benefits to knowing exactly what you are going to talk about before launching into a conversation. Even as I have been teaching Alex to read this year, I have been amazed at how easily he deals with grammar and spelling exceptions, *once he has grasped the initial rule*.

It is the same with the Gospel. Knonwing the basic points and the Scripture references is far more useful than trying to anticipate every curveball (or goofball) and trying to start from zero each time.

Matt said...

Oh yeah, that was a totally ideal scenario. When the rubber hits the road I teach students what you said. For example, when I was teaching Rob Hackelman how to share the gospel from any starting point, I would have him use the KGP booklet. I would ask him to share the gospel with me using sex as the topic. After giving me the look of a basset hound that just heard a loud pitched noise, I explained:
1. God created sex for his glory and our enjoyment.
2. We have sinned, and used sex for our glory and sinful desires.
3. Jesus died to forgive us for that sin, and to redeem sex for us.
4. If we accept his forgiveness, and walk in that redemption (new life) we can enjoy him and the sex he has created.

I agree with you about getting back to the essentials. My one issue is using a dated material to do so. To use your anaology:
What would happen if a teacher used the same syllabus from 25 years ago, but instead of recontextualizing it all she did was use a different template, a different font scheme, and a picture of Jason Green under a tree? Or what would happen if a car salesman used the same old method of car buying from 1971 on a 25 year old, by simply making his presentation look cooler and have a picture of Jason Green under a tree.

My heart is that some young Crusader will follow Dr. Bright's example and take the unchanging gospel and find a foundational way to communicate it to our culture

Adam & Anne said...

Well said, Matt. Thanks for taking the time to comment!