To train in facilitation or enabling, without encouraging the appropriation of responsibility for the outcome, what are the best tools?
Possibly a good starting point would be to look at tool type(s) which might encourage responsibility for outcoming. Since that is not what we want, it may eliminate some inappropriate approaches.
Fundamentally, any approach into which ‘we’ have direct content input would tend to encourage us to assume responsibility in proportion to our input. Since we at least partially created it, we can claim some of the results. So, how one relates to the material used to articulate the Gospel will effect the degree to which one claims responsibility for the result.
As an aside, I am not including mode of presentation – whether you present the material in the English or other alphabet, or whether you use a note pad, Power Point or pamphlet. That is media, not the material itself. If there is a related issue in this area, it is separate and not addressed here.
To continue, if one were to create a presentation of the Gospel utlilizing a human paradigm of the steps to salvation or one based upon human psychology, then irrespective of how effective or successful it was, it would tend to ensnare the presenter in the responsibility trap. And, the degree of danger would be at least proportional to the amount of personal human input into the paradigm presented. Let me stress again that I am considering the danger to the presenter’s perspective here, not the quality of what is being used.
All this is really just preamble. So, what to do?
Let me state up front that I am unashamedly poaching part of this approach from William Fay (Share Jesus without Fear ISBN:0805418393 – highly recommended), and that I have a strong belief in equiping when possible through hands-on mentoring or training (hey, I teach for a living ). Having said that, I have come to believe that the most appropriate (for the person witnessed to) and safe (from the point of view of the witness) tool is pure, unvarnished Scripture.
Scripture itself presents Scripture as ‘the’ tool for present the Gospel and the road to Salvation. It presents Scripture as the co-agent of the Spirit in effectual calling. Nowhere does it list alternate methods or resources that are needed to make it effective in the original or subsequent eras. Nowhere does it state or imply the as time goes on a little help from man might be either needed or desirable in the work of ‘calling’ the Saint from the world. Since we had no part in the creation of Scripture, it’s functioning in this (or any other regard) is not of us and to claim responsibility would be ludicrous.
What does this mean? Well, to me it means that the best methodology to present the Gospel and at the same leave the work where is belongs (in the hands of the Spirit), is the use of plain Scripture. Not only that, but if calling is effectual, then the real work is happenning behind the scenes. Beyond possibly a style of presention that helps both parties relax a bit, we are not responsible for the material nor the result. Since the presenter is then merely a facilitator, he or she is much less (not completely mind you) likely to grasp at the result, and all the pride, etc., that might go with that path.
The joy is then in celebration of whatever the result may be, since it is the Will of the Lord. If the result is another Saint, the rejoicing is in the work of the Lord, Spirit and Scripture alone. And rejoicing in the privilege of seeing it happen. If the result is resistance, even rejection, then the rejoicing is in the opportunity of acting in simple obedience to our Lord and Saviour. And rejoicing in the fact that we can leave it all in His hands, not ours.
In utilizing this technique, there are certainly many degrees. By this I mean that on one end we have a quite strident approach from Fay’s book, while there are many for whom that would we unsuitable since they have a less gregarious personality. As such, an exact scripted paradigm is not reasonable nor advoacted here. Since we have a spectrum of believer personalities, a set of guidelines or a road map to the Scriptural presentation, preamble, and subsequent support will allow the personality of each believer to shine through in sharing the Gospel.
How have I come to these opinions? I am certainly not an expert. Most of this has evolved through many conversations with other believers about the likelyhood of actually sharing the Gospel and feelings about that, through ideas culled from Fay’s and other books (though there are very few), through sharing the experience of other believers related to numerous instances of sharing the Gospel subsequent to personal evangelism workshops, and lastly, through personal experience, reactions and observation.
Does anecdotal and Scriptural evidence suggest that this is the only way, and that others might not be effective? Not a chance! But I do feel that a simple, clear, honest presentation of Scripture will be used by the Spirit for His ends, and in that we can rejoice in leaving the result to Him. In simple obedience I can’t ask for much more than that.
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