Doable Evangelism Program
By Lee Kopulos
Mr. Randy Siever: Sparks , Nevada (close to Reno Nevada); B.A Philosophy from San Jose State University; M.A. Christian Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary; 20 years Staff of Young Life and 9 years Outreach Director at Sparks Christian Fellowship. Randy is married for over 35 years with two adult children and two grandchildren. He has worked in the Evangelism field for 30+years with the likes of the big Mega Churches - Saddlebrook and Willowbrook. Currently, Randy is a member of a very small church in Sparks of 20 members. He meets often with groups who have people that are either atheistic or agnostic at best. This is his calling now versus conversion.
St. Luke’s has given Randy his first encounter with Orthodox Christians and the Orthodox Christian Church. He was given two books to read before coming to Chicago. We sent him Becoming Orthodox by Fr. Peter Gillquist and From Baptist to Byzantium by Fr. James Early. He read both of them and asked to speak further with Fr. Peter Gillquist. We are hooking him up with Fr. Peter right away. Obviously he was impressed with what and who the Orthodox are in the Christian world. It is sufficient to say here that Randy is an excellent presenter and a fine Christian believer who is totally dedicated to Christ the Savior.
All the Parish members I talked after its completion strongly recommended the program and were impressed with Randy. Additionally, Sub-Deacon John Segvich reported to me that in his High School Class today, Ally Evangelopoulos spoke out about her experience with Doable Evangelism and told her classmates that they all missed an important spiritual program and message! We had recommended it strongly for High School age young adults.
Doable Evangelism Notes
This is not a typical evangelism program as you might expect. It isn’t filled with hard messages, Bible verses and pressure for individuals to make a commitment to Christ and be “saved.” This is a very realistic type of evangelism which only requires that an Orthodox Christian make contact with a person, establish a conversation, listen and pray silently afterwards for that person. This gives Doable its name – something anyone can do.
Movie excerpts from “The Big Kahuna” starring Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito prove the point. This movie highlights the idea that one need not use Scripture and other hard sell-methods to motivate one towards the Lord. The real problem with the hard-core approach is that few people can really pull it off. Most people are not strong enough or not sincere enough or do not have the experience of selling with conviction to be effective at it. Most people cannot and should not attempt it. Based upon a study by the Saddlebrook Mega-Church, only 10% have the true spiritual gift of evangelism. Bill Bright, the National Director of Campus Crusade in the 60’s, claimed only 3% have this ability. Fr. Peter Gillquist who was the Regional Big Ten Director of Campus Crusade agrees with Bright – 3%.
Randy painted Jesus as an “ordinary” person for most of his first 30 years. The Bible only refers to Jesus as being an active person when he was 12 and found teaching Scripture in the Synagogue. I believe that this is the only flaw in Randy’s presentation. Jesus was special from the beginning. If he astounded people with his understanding of Scripture in the Synagogue at 12, you can see further in Holy Scripture that this wasn’t the only time or place (see Luke 4:14-30). I believe this passage shows Jesus as extraordinary! I am sure we Orthodox have, from our unwritten Tradition, more proof that Jesus was special in his formative years before age of 30. However, Randy’s point that most people are ordinary is of course true.
A George Barna Study on religion in America and the unchurched indicates that only 4% of unchurched people were ever invited to come to Church. 73% were never invited.
The New Paradigm - St. Patrick of Ireland and the Celtic Approach
The main point here is that conversations are far more important than conversions. An important book on this subject is George Hunter: The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christians can reach the West.
The movie, “The Big Kahuna,” highlights the difficulty of strong-armed, Bible quoting evangelism as Spacey is confronted with a fellow worker who “pitches” him strongly and they end up in a fight! Dan DiVito the manager of the group of this group of businessmen (Lubricant Salesmen), later pulls the young evangelist aside and tells him:” Be a human being. Be a conversation not a “pitch”. Things about God should be spiritual conversation.” This example in the movie confirms the point of the effectiveness of conversation as an evangelism technique.
Randy goes on to say that Evangelism should be a spiritual practice of each person not a church program.
The 3 steps are:
1) Notice – 30 seconds to look at someone and get their attention.
2) Pray – behind someone’s back, and pray for their peace and Christ.
3) Listen – start with open ended questions that get conversation. Open ended like - How are you? How was your day? Look them in the eye. Say “wow” a lot as they speak about events to you.
Most journeys to the Lord are not direct or linear. They start with BELONG and move up and down before they finally get to the BELIEVE part. Gradual conversions are normal.
In the Gospel there are very few direct conversions like blinding of St. Paul; the Ethiopian Eunuch; The Samaritan Woman/ St. Photini or the Roman Centurion/Cornelius.
A Vision New England study of recent conversions found that only 14% reported a conversion experience. A vast majority took months or years.
How is a church like a bridge to nowhere? Churches must adapt to the culture or become useless!!! According to Peter Drucker, a famous corporate management consultant expert, “Every hundred years a society has a sharp transformation. We in the USA are now living in such a transformation.”
The importance of the Heart
1Samuel 16: 7: “The Lord does not look at things that man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” The example of David here as an adulterer and killer.
Matthew 9:36: “When He saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Nudging someone to Jesus is a great experience. Some ask what they should do. You should respond by saying I don’t know yet.
So now you can’t complain or say you can’t evangelize for anyone can:
NOTICE – PRAY- LISTEN
30 Seconds of listening to someone each day. Do it and it will become your lifestyle!
The main book is: Evangelism without Additives: What if sharing your faith meant just being yourself? by Jim Henderson, WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, Co.80921