Sunday, 8 May 2011

Lightbulb Moment

lightbulb momentLast Sunday I got soaked for the sake of the Gospel. This week, I have had a ‘lightbulb’ moment about the experience. I have suddenly understood something about different approaches to teaching evangelism

Let me explain

For years, I have heard people say “I can’t do maths. I’ve never been able to do maths. My Mum said she couldn’t do maths when she was at school, either” And I’m a maths teacher – just lately giving booster lessons to struggling Year 6 SATS children who say that sort of thing -and it feels as if they have all given up any idea of ever being able to do maths confidently.

vordermanFurther investigation reveals that many think they need to do maths ‘instinctively’ like Carol Vorderman. Instant understanding, with apparently no effort, able to solve the problem in half a minute, 100% accurate results, she’s a gifted genius!

maths teacher

Others think they need to be like the maths teacher, able to reproduce the right, very complex, formula on the board [from memory] and that will give them the solution that they need. And they can never remember it!

division by chunkingAnd I come along, and say “What can’t you do?” and they say “Division by Chunking”

So I say “What can you do? – can you add up? do you know your 2x table? your 5x table? your 10x table?” and they say “Well, yes, I can do those things” – and I show them that they can do this method of division, using the knowledge and skills they already have. And they return to class beaming, walking 2” taller. And they say to me a week later “We did chunking in class on Monday, and I got it all right!” And they are confident- and realise they can do the sums by themselves, without my help.

And this week I saw there was a parallel in the church

The thing is, I have grown up hearing preachers say that “Every Christian should be an evangelist” and I have squirmed in my pew. I want to share the love of Jesus with everybody, and I believe that most of my brothers and sisters in my church feel the same way. But they’ve never been any good at it, and their older and wiser friends have consoled them and said “No I’m not much use at it either”


Because people equate ‘being an evangelist’ with ‘being like Billy Graham’ – able to explain God’s message of salvation so clearly that people get out of their seats and come forward to discover more about it, and become Christians then and there.

evangelism training

And others think they must spend weeks memorising an intensive evangelism training programme, and that will guarantee results and conversions. But it doesn’t.

And so they give up – they leave the evangelism to the ‘gifted genius’ Billy Graham types, or the ‘professional’ fully-trained types. And they say “I can’t do this evangelism stuff”

…and along comes Chris Duffett

chris duffett 2

and this ordinary looking, happy little bloke says “What can’t you do?” and we say “Evangelise”

And he says “Can you give out cakes? can you offer someone a stick of rock? can you hold up a sign saying ‘I will listen’ or ‘Free Hugs’?” and we say “Well, yes, we suppose we can”

And he gets us doing those things – and we end up talking to people about Jesus - in the middle of Blackpool, on a busy Saturday - and sharing our faith with complete strangers – without it feeling uncomfortable** or embarrassing.

And because he started with the things we could do and felt [reasonably] confident about, we discovered that we were actually doing the evangelism! And we returned to our friends at the Assembly beaming all over our faces, and feeling 2” taller**.

…so pray for Chris

because as President Elect of the Baptist Union, he is going to be spending an awful lot of his time in the coming months giving ‘booster classes’ in evangelism to the less confident members of the Baptist denomination.

…and some pupils will be more difficult than others!

**if you read my post last week, you will know that I did feel uncomfortable, due to being soaked through, and I was not 2” taller, but anxious I might shrink. [But I was still beaming all over my face.]


  1. I will hold my hands up and say I am another who feels that I simply cannot 'do' evangelism, and who squirms every time it is mentioned. I was very taken with your post last week, and this is very encouraging.

  2. I sometimes wonder about Billy Graham being famous as an evangelist. He was a preacher for sure, but I think the real evangelists were the people who invited their friends along to a BG rally to hear him - and to hear God speak to them through him.

    Thanks for the encouragement though :-)

  3. The word 'evangelism' has the same effect on me as it does Carolyn. When I try to tell people about my faith I get blank stares, rolling of eyes and then usually a smarty pants comment.I prefer to think of the advice of a retired Anglican church worker (apologies, I cannot remember his name)who said
    "always preach the gospel, and sometimes use words!". I find that much easier.
    I think Chris Duffett is amazing.
    Jane x


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