The Use of Subterfuges
A little over 40 years ago, I was part of a group of 12 men from the Indianapolis area, involved in Spiritual training. Its name was "Shamgar", and it seems to be still going on. We met in a church camp about 85 miles from our homes, and spent one weekend a month there, for four consecutive months.
To say the time spent there was rewarding might just be the biggest understatement I have ever made. But one of the most interesting and impactful things wasn't really part of the training. It was a happy accident involving airlines and luggage.
Doug Snider came up from Texas each month to lead the training. The third month, we were scheduled to go out into the community and witness to folks, and were to use a "Spiritual Opinion Poll", for which Doug had a form prepared. But it was in the luggage that didn't make it to Indy, and we couldn't go back and get it as there wasn't time.
I'll never forget what Doug said...
"I guess God is teaching us something. That we are not to use any subterfuges to witness for Him. We're just going to go out as businessmen from Indianapolis, sharing our faith with people."
And that is precisely what we told people.
Surprise! Surprise! People were quite willing to talk to us about our faith. From professing Christians to unbelievers to Jehovah's Witnesses, they welcomed us into their homes. There were teachers, missionaries, plumbers, insurance salesmen, students, quite a cross section in our group ... and the welcoming attitude of folks surprised everybody there.
Ed Stetzer, in his book LOST AND FOUND.. did a lot of poll-taking. For a legitimate purpose. But I have yet to see where the local church, say in the F.A.I.T.H. program, is taking a legitimate poll while out on a visit. The aim is not to compile results to be used in guiding some future action; no, the aim is to share the gospel with unbelievers. While that's certainly a worthy goal, I doubt that misrepresentation in even the most seemingly innocuous form should be a part of that.
Claiming we're taking a "survey" or a "poll" is, to me, dishonest. And that is surely not worthy of someone out there representing the King of Kings. It borders on being ashamed of the gospel .. ashamed of simply telling people we're out and about, sharing it.
It's just not for me.
Could it be that things like that have led to the "shallowness" of the decisions that have been made over the last few decades, in the SBC? Might it account for the fact that most folks go through the "conversion" thing slick as can be, and then disappear?
I think it plays a big part in it.
The real joy we've found in sharing with servers in restaurants comes partly .. IMO .. from the fact that there's no subterfuge, no misleading, no reluctance to reveal we are believers and want to pray for someone. Other than one single case of seeming indifference, every single person has appreciated that we prayed for them.
And it also reinforces what Ed Stetzer's book revealed .. that folks are generally interested in Spiritual things, even though not interested in church.
And it crosses age barriers, too, as witnessed by the young lady who wrote on our check: "Thank you for bringing some light to my day. have a blessed day!"
Which brings me back to my original question: Is there something we're afraid of? Or worse yet, something we're ashamed of?
May it never be, for me and my house.