Friday, February 12, 2010

Evangelism and Humor

Find a way to preach the gospel. The world needs it.

Witty Witnessing: Humor as a Conversion Tool
February 11, 2010

Many secular people today think Christians are almost entirely without humor -- the kind of people who don’t enjoy life much and don’t want anyone else to, either. H. L. Mencken once famously described fundamentalist Christians as people who have “a terrible, pervasive fear that someone, somewhere, is having fun.”

Well, Mencken never met my former colleague, Eric Metaxas. If he had, Mencken might have changed his mind. In fact, I suspect Eric would shortly have caused him to break up in laughter. Even -- or maybe especially -- if Eric had talked about religion.

When it comes to religion, Eric has a knack of meeting people on their own ground. He lives in New York City -- a highly secular town, after all. But through his talks and his books, Eric speaks to his New York neighbors in a language they understand: the language of humor. Irony and humor, says Metaxas, “have become part of the lingua franca of our culture.”

And to reach people who love humor, Eric has just written a book entitled Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God But Were Afraid to Ask: The Jesus Edition. It’s the third book in a nutty, bestselling series. Eric grabs the reader’s attention with an imaginary conversation between a Christian and a skeptic—one who knows very little about the Gospel.

He keeps the reader’s attention with one joke after another. But in between the gags is orthodox Christian teaching -- who Jesus is, evidence for the resurrection, why we should believe He is the son of God.

Eric found it necessary to address these very basic issues because most people nowadays, especially sophisticated, educated New Yorkers, don’t know the first thing about the Gospel. They simply didn’t grow up with it -- and as Eric notes, you typically won’t find them discussing the claims of Christ at their cocktail parties.

In thinking hard about the most effective way to reach his neighbors with the Gospel, Eric is following in the spiritual steps of the apostle Paul. Remember, Paul went to Mars Hill in Athens. Unlike the Jews, the Athenians had no knowledge of Scripture. So instead of quoting Old Testament Scripture, Paul had to find another way to explain Christ to them.

He hit on the idea of talking to them about their altar to an unknown god. And he quoted a Greek poet. In other words, he caught their attention, then met them at their point of understanding, then gave them the Gospel. This is why we teach worldview at The Colson Center for Christian Worldview (™.

We need to know more how our neighbors think. And then, like Paul, we can engage our neighbors in a very winsome way. That will give us, then, the opportunity to present the Gospel in a way they can understand. Young people, especially, today have no understanding of Christianity.

This book is written for adults, but it could have a great appeal to young adults. That’s why I recommend you buy a few copies of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God: The Jesus Edition , and donate them to campus ministries or youth groups. The book is available at

The jokes will get the attention of unsaved kids -- kids who, like Mencken, think Christians are a dour bunch who want to stop everyone else from having fun. But the solid teaching between the jokes just might change their lives.

Copyright (c) 2009 Prison Fellowship

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