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My personal experience of evangelism

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  • My personal experience of evangelism

    Subtitled: 'And why I don't like it.'

    In my twenties I was teaching in a remote country town where I met my wife (who was a Christian). She wasn't a 'beat you over the head' kind of Christian. You knew it was her faith and she answered your questions. I was really into CS Lewis, and began over sometime to accept more and more of Christianity. I had a conversion experience on my own, and since it's intensely personal, I won't bore you with the details. Some time later we were married and both looked for ways to 'serve the Lord' more directly. I accepted a job in a Christian school in Melbourne. (Yes I know, I was never REALLY a Christian because I'm not one now.)

    That didn't last long. The school was involved in a bitter internal dispute over some philosophy as to the extent Creation could be another revelation of God. Great fun. Committed Christians were tearing each other down left and right and conspiring in cadres to oust everybody else.

    I resigned and we came back to teach in state schools.

    We attended a local Baptist church and were very active within it. A lovely lady (since passed) was an elder and wanted very much to do the best she could for God. She used a program called 'Evangelism Explosion' and we all learnt how to 'win' souls, memorising our verses and arguments. We'd go to local families and run through our spiel and harangue people in their own homes. I remember with shame the perplexed look on most people's faces as we interrupted their precious night family time.

    Over time, I got more into the 'charismatic' side of things. We joined an Assembly of God church and I rose to be a worship leader. I can vividly remember how one elder told he just KNEW I was leading by the Spirit because he got goosebumps whenever I lead the music. It was here I learned how easy it was to manipulate the feelings of the congregation. In fact, we were encouraged to do so. I was good at it. We always had an alter appeal and I watched hundreds of people whipped up into an easy emotionalism come forward. It was also here that I learned that many of the programs of the church were fraudulent. They CLAIMED to be doing one thing but were all fundamentally aimed at evangelism. People were considered 'targets' and 'scalps'. It had as much integrity as selling insurance or used cars.

    I have seen this pattern repeated over and over again in various churches and organisations. Ministry X seems a good and charitable thing to do, but remember our REAL aim (which we won't tell the suckers) is to 'win' them for Jesus so I can get a merit badge in heaven.

    I read and thought (yes, and prayed) more and more growing more and more dissatisfied with the dishonesty and hard sell of organised Christianity. So after much anguish I left. I no longer consider myself a Christian and none of you consider me one either.

    I despise evangelism. To me it is a sign of dishonesty and manipulation. It's almost always simple minded. It demeans the Other, because it so hardly ever listens to the life experience the other person has.

    The Jews (who serve the same God) have an entirely different approach. When you say to them you're considering becoming a Jew they usually respond 'Why on earth would you want to do that?' Catholics aren't bad either. They simply can't believe you'd like to be a member of their flawed club. I'm attracted to both because of that.

    It would be a cheap throwaway line to say I left Christianity because of the bad behaviour of a few people. I didn't. I have deep theological and philosophical objections to much of Christian belief and practice. But I will admit to feeling vindicated on a regular basis.

  • #2
    09chip-600.jpg

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by lao tzu View Post
      [ATTACH=CONFIG]5959[/ATTACH]
      I am ... unclear ... on the meaning of this.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by pancreasman View Post
        I am ... unclear ... on the meaning of this.
        dark side? cookies?
        Last edited by JonathanL; 04-24-2015, 11:40 PM.
        ~Formerly known as Chrawnus~

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by pancreasman View Post
          Subtitled: 'And why I don't like it.'

          In my twenties I was teaching in a remote country town where I met my wife (who was a Christian). She wasn't a 'beat you over the head' kind of Christian. You knew it was her faith and she answered your questions. I was really into CS Lewis, and began over sometime to accept more and more of Christianity. I had a conversion experience on my own, and since it's intensely personal, I won't bore you with the details. Some time later we were married and both looked for ways to 'serve the Lord' more directly. I accepted a job in a Christian school in Melbourne. (Yes I know, I was never REALLY a Christian because I'm not one now.)

          That didn't last long. The school was involved in a bitter internal dispute over some philosophy as to the extent Creation could be another revelation of God. Great fun. Committed Christians were tearing each other down left and right and conspiring in cadres to oust everybody else.

          I resigned and we came back to teach in state schools.

          We attended a local Baptist church and were very active within it. A lovely lady (since passed) was an elder and wanted very much to do the best she could for God. She used a program called 'Evangelism Explosion' and we all learnt how to 'win' souls, memorising our verses and arguments. We'd go to local families and run through our spiel and harangue people in their own homes. I remember with shame the perplexed look on most people's faces as we interrupted their precious night family time.

          Over time, I got more into the 'charismatic' side of things. We joined an Assembly of God church and I rose to be a worship leader. I can vividly remember how one elder told he just KNEW I was leading by the Spirit because he got goosebumps whenever I lead the music. It was here I learned how easy it was to manipulate the feelings of the congregation. In fact, we were encouraged to do so. I was good at it. We always had an alter appeal and I watched hundreds of people whipped up into an easy emotionalism come forward. It was also here that I learned that many of the programs of the church were fraudulent. They CLAIMED to be doing one thing but were all fundamentally aimed at evangelism. People were considered 'targets' and 'scalps'. It had as much integrity as selling insurance or used cars.

          I have seen this pattern repeated over and over again in various churches and organisations. Ministry X seems a good and charitable thing to do, but remember our REAL aim (which we won't tell the suckers) is to 'win' them for Jesus so I can get a merit badge in heaven.

          I read and thought (yes, and prayed) more and more growing more and more dissatisfied with the dishonesty and hard sell of organised Christianity. So after much anguish I left. I no longer consider myself a Christian and none of you consider me one either.

          I despise evangelism. To me it is a sign of dishonesty and manipulation. It's almost always simple minded. It demeans the Other, because it so hardly ever listens to the life experience the other person has.

          The Jews (who serve the same God) have an entirely different approach. When you say to them you're considering becoming a Jew they usually respond 'Why on earth would you want to do that?' Catholics aren't bad either. They simply can't believe you'd like to be a member of their flawed club. I'm attracted to both because of that.

          It would be a cheap throwaway line to say I left Christianity because of the bad behaviour of a few people. I didn't. I have deep theological and philosophical objections to much of Christian belief and practice. But I will admit to feeling vindicated on a regular basis.
          Cool story bro.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Scrawly View Post
            Cool story bro.
            You're my favorite kind of Christian.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by lao tzu View Post
              You're my favorite kind of Christian.
              Uh-oh.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by pancreasman View Post
                Subtitled: 'And why I don't like it.'

                In my twenties I was teaching in a remote country town where I met my wife (who was a Christian). She wasn't a 'beat you over the head' kind of Christian. You knew it was her faith and she answered your questions. I was really into CS Lewis, and began over sometime to accept more and more of Christianity. I had a conversion experience on my own, and since it's intensely personal, I won't bore you with the details. Some time later we were married and both looked for ways to 'serve the Lord' more directly. I accepted a job in a Christian school in Melbourne. (Yes I know, I was never REALLY a Christian because I'm not one now.)

                That didn't last long. The school was involved in a bitter internal dispute over some philosophy as to the extent Creation could be another revelation of God. Great fun. Committed Christians were tearing each other down left and right and conspiring in cadres to oust everybody else.

                I resigned and we came back to teach in state schools.

                We attended a local Baptist church and were very active within it. A lovely lady (since passed) was an elder and wanted very much to do the best she could for God. She used a program called 'Evangelism Explosion' and we all learnt how to 'win' souls, memorising our verses and arguments. We'd go to local families and run through our spiel and harangue people in their own homes. I remember with shame the perplexed look on most people's faces as we interrupted their precious night family time.

                Over time, I got more into the 'charismatic' side of things. We joined an Assembly of God church and I rose to be a worship leader. I can vividly remember how one elder told he just KNEW I was leading by the Spirit because he got goosebumps whenever I lead the music. It was here I learned how easy it was to manipulate the feelings of the congregation. In fact, we were encouraged to do so. I was good at it. We always had an alter appeal and I watched hundreds of people whipped up into an easy emotionalism come forward. It was also here that I learned that many of the programs of the church were fraudulent. They CLAIMED to be doing one thing but were all fundamentally aimed at evangelism. People were considered 'targets' and 'scalps'. It had as much integrity as selling insurance or used cars.

                I have seen this pattern repeated over and over again in various churches and organisations. Ministry X seems a good and charitable thing to do, but remember our REAL aim (which we won't tell the suckers) is to 'win' them for Jesus so I can get a merit badge in heaven.

                I read and thought (yes, and prayed) more and more growing more and more dissatisfied with the dishonesty and hard sell of organised Christianity. So after much anguish I left. I no longer consider myself a Christian and none of you consider me one either.

                I despise evangelism. To me it is a sign of dishonesty and manipulation. It's almost always simple minded. It demeans the Other, because it so hardly ever listens to the life experience the other person has.

                The Jews (who serve the same God) have an entirely different approach. When you say to them you're considering becoming a Jew they usually respond 'Why on earth would you want to do that?' Catholics aren't bad either. They simply can't believe you'd like to be a member of their flawed club. I'm attracted to both because of that.

                It would be a cheap throwaway line to say I left Christianity because of the bad behaviour of a few people. I didn't. I have deep theological and philosophical objections to much of Christian belief and practice. But I will admit to feeling vindicated on a regular basis.
                We papists have this long process called RCIA for anyone who wants to join our flawed club. It's full of the most wishy-washy, watered-down catechism we can manage to scare away anyone who isn't really serious.

                What you call evangelism is what I think of as proselytizing, but that's semantics. I know that a lot of evangelical charities try to offer the gospel message to all the people they serve, while Catholic charities, as you say, tend to be more surprised when someone expresses an interest in Catholicism. Catholic apologetics (that is, trying to fight off the proselytizers) is a bigger thing than Catholic evangelism, but, oddly enough, a lot of evangelicals are find themselves convinced that Catholicism is right after all. These evangelical converts have brought a lot to the Church, though I do wonder from time to time exactly how much of the evangelical mindset and experience can really find a home in Catholicism. For example, trying to qualify who is Christian or not based on whether they've had the sort of intensely personal conversion experience you alluded to, well, I think that might very well exclude me from Christianity. If I ever had an experience like that, it doesn't stick out in my memory, and that seems like the sort of thing that ought to stick out.

                All that aside, thank you for sharing your story.

                Also, come to the dark side. We have death cookies.
                Don't call it a comeback. It's a riposte.

                Comment


                • #9
                  If I'm reading you right, your issue is with insincerity, dishonesty and deception-by-omission in evangelism, rather than with the idea of evangelism per se?

                  I think Jesus wouldn't be too impressed with the kinds of sharp practices you encountered. I've always understood the 'Great Commission' to be about helping people to know Jesus as I know Him, and to choose to consciously and actively follow Him in their lives, for all their lives. That's not the kind of hing that happens if you take 'shortcuts' and rush people into a 'commitment'.
                  ...>>> Witty remark or snarky quote of another poster goes here <<<...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by pancreasman View Post
                    Ministry X seems a good and charitable thing to do, but remember our REAL aim (which we won't tell the suckers) is to 'win' them for Jesus so I can get a merit badge in heaven.
                    Reminds me of a conversation with my increasingly-more-conservative Christian parents a year or so ago. They'd had a speaker at their church who had started an organisation working with poor people who were in debt, helping them sort out their finances. "That's the sort of Christianity you'd approve-of right?" they said to me, and indeed it was, as they made what the guy was doing sound like a really great idea that was truly making a meaningful impact to people's lives.

                    My response was along the lines of "that sounds wonderful, could it be scaled-up to happen throughout the country? You could probably get government funding for that sort of thing" but I suspected that this all sounded too-good to be true, because call me a skeptic, but over the years I've been sufficiently disillusioned about Christians and them helping people. Sure enough, at Christmas I overheard my parents telling the same story to their religious relatives and they included a lot more bits to the story than what they'd told me, and sure enough, the motivations of the guy doing this were primarily about evangelism. Helping poor people out of debt was apparently a useful tool for winning souls for Christ.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Starlight View Post
                      Reminds me of a conversation with my increasingly-more-conservative Christian parents a year or so ago. They'd had a speaker at their church who had started an organisation working with poor people who were in debt, helping them sort out their finances. "That's the sort of Christianity you'd approve-of right?" they said to me, and indeed it was, as they made what the guy was doing sound like a really great idea that was truly making a meaningful impact to people's lives.

                      My response was along the lines of "that sounds wonderful, could it be scaled-up to happen throughout the country? You could probably get government funding for that sort of thing" but I suspected that this all sounded too-good to be true, because call me a skeptic, but over the years I've been sufficiently disillusioned about Christians and them helping people. Sure enough, at Christmas I overheard my parents telling the same story to their religious relatives and they included a lot more bits to the story than what they'd told me, and sure enough, the motivations of the guy doing this were primarily about evangelism. Helping poor people out of debt was apparently a useful tool for winning souls for Christ.
                      It's apparently a lose-lose for Christians, then.

                      If they do something that actually helps people in their everyday lives, then they're being deceptive because they have 'other motives'.

                      If they don't do anything very practical, just try to tell people about Jesus, then they're just offering 'pie in the sky when you die'.

                      Isn't it at all possible that at least some Christians both want to help people in their present lives, and (hopefully) help them know Jesus, who, Christians believe, is wonderful, loving, and our only way to fully full life?


                      Meanwhile, atheists apparently get a free pass, and can live as selfishly as they like. Or not. I'm beginning to suspect that there's a reason your parents are increasingly conservative....
                      ...>>> Witty remark or snarky quote of another poster goes here <<<...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MaxVel View Post
                        It's apparently a lose-lose for Christians, then.

                        If they do something that actually helps people in their everyday lives, then they're being deceptive because they have 'other motives'.

                        If they don't do anything very practical, just try to tell people about Jesus, then they're just offering 'pie in the sky when you die'.

                        Isn't it at all possible that at least some Christians both want to help people in their present lives, and (hopefully) help them know Jesus, who, Christians believe, is wonderful, loving, and our only way to fully full life?


                        Meanwhile, atheists apparently get a free pass, and can live as selfishly as they like. Or not. I'm beginning to suspect that there's a reason your parents are increasingly conservative....
                        Agreed. God created us as physical beings (we are now and will be after the final resurrection) so it would be very odd if Christians did not interact with others in a physical way, and since the Great Commission was to preach the gospel I don't know why someone would be surprised at Christians looking for opportunity to preach the gospel. As Christians we care about others because we are trying to emulate Jesus who in turn teaches us how to love others. Would Jesus want to help people to take control of their finances? I think so? I remember last year when the ebola crisis came to the medias attention there was tempered outrage that Christian missionaries were already there helping. No one ever denied that Christians have a message and just because atheists have rejected that message doesn't mean than others should not have the chance of hearing it. Anti-Christians always accuse Christians of trying to control people and their behaviour, but look closely and see just who the control freaks are!!
                        Last edited by Abigail; 04-25-2015, 05:11 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Abigail View Post
                          Agreed. God created us as physical beings (we are now and will be after the final resurrection) so it would be very odd if Christians did not interact with others in a physical way, and since the Great Commission was to preach the gospel I don't know why someone would be surprised at Christians looking for opportunity to preach the gospel. As Christians we care about others because we are trying to emulate Jesus who in turn teaches us how to love others. Would Jesus want to help people to take control of their finances? I think so? I remember last year when the ebola crisis came to the medias attention there was tempered outrage that Christian missionaries were already there helping. No one ever denied that Christians have a message and just because atheists have rejected that message doesn't mean than others should not have the chance of hearing it. Anti-Christians always accuse Christians of trying to control people and their behaviour, but look closely and see just who the control freaks are!!
                          Actually, I don't consider myself an atheist and whether I am or not has no relevance to my experience. People who think enough of their faith to come to a site like this, are obviously more actively involved and I'd wager more likely to act with integrity.

                          In the general population of people claiming to be Christians, my experience is as I have written. I'm well aware that some Christians are able to act with integrity and depth with regards to evangelism. This is NOT a thread I'd like to see resolve along familiar lines of us vs them.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Abigail View Post
                            Jesus who in turn teaches us how to love others ..... just because atheists have rejected that message ...
                            Not true. The message that everyone benefits if they love one another is not in the least problematic for atheists. It is not exclusively a Christian message.
                            “I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.” ― Oscar Wilde
                            “And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence” ― Bertrand Russell
                            “not all there” - you know who you are

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by MaxVel View Post
                              I've always understood the 'Great Commission' to be about helping people to know Jesus as I know Him, and to choose to consciously and actively follow Him in their lives, for all their lives.
                              In other words you know what’s best – you deflect it of course, to Jesus, but because you know what Jesus wants and you agree with him or he agrees with you, you really do know what’s best. The problem is that you are forbidden to consider whether Jesus could be wrong. That is the great weakness of your position.
                              “I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.” ― Oscar Wilde
                              “And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence” ― Bertrand Russell
                              “not all there” - you know who you are

                              Comment

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