By Pastor Deb Stehlin
As you might expect, I do I lot of thinking and reading and talking about evangelism. (I serve as director for evangelical mission.) It feels good to share what I learned in my work as a church planter. I continue to learn even more from my gifted colleagues. I read as much as I can. But in the last few months, I learned the most about evangelism from the Minnesota State Fair.
What’s so glorious about the state fair? It serves as a 322-acre platform for people to proclaim, “You guys!”
“You guys. I made this kayak out of sticks and Saran wrap. And it really works.”
“You guys. I grew this thousand-pound pumpkin. Isn’t that marvelous?”
“You guys. I have figured out how to make the perfect blueberry pie. Isn’t it a thing of beauty?”
FOR ME, EVANGELISM is about two things. The first is bearing witness.
The state fair is full of people who bear witness. They are there for the express purpose of telling and showing something that’s important to them. Their joy overflows so much that they have to tell others; they believe that what they offer will be a gift to their Minnesota siblings – some who never realized until that moment that, yes, indeed, stick-and-Saran-wrap kayaks, half-ton pumpkins, and blueberry pies are pretty darn amazing.
“Part of evangelism is inviting someone to experience what you’ve found in Christian community.”
I think we all know how to bear witness. I believe we can all learn to bear witness to the love and justice of God. It goes something like this: “You guys, you are loved and accepted by God — and we know this because of Jesus. You guys, Jesus offers us an upside-down way of living that embodies God’s love and justice. You guys, there is life after death, and healing for our brokenness, and an alternate story to live by.”
The second part of evangelism is inviting someone to experience what you’ve found in Christian community. I think we all know how to do that, too.
A woman at the fair was demonstrating how to cook with crickets. She was so excited to share what she knows about how nutritious crickets are and how it’s a sustainable way to provide important nutrition. On this day, she was showing how to make brownies with roasted cricket meal. And she made an invitation: “These brownies are so delicious, and they offer [insert long list of nutrients here]. Would you like to taste one?”
As amazing as cricket brownies and kayaks and pumpkins are, what we bear witness to and invite others into is even better. Let’s encourage one another to bravely and graciously bear witness and invite.
Someone did that for me, and it changed my life.