Gareth Jones, our Thinking Faith Network director and I have recently started talking about bespoke evangelism. Gareth is quite good at this but not as good as me!
The heart of bespoke evangelism is to find out what a person enjoys talking about and then to build bridges into this enjoyable chat zone. This method of ‘witnessing’ is to be contrasted with bible bashing that both ignores contemporary culture and often alienates people.
Here is an illustration of bespoke evangelism that seemed to work very well:
I was talking to a young non-Christian woman and it turned out that she enjoys talking about the royal family. I said to her –
“Have you heard what they are saying about the Duke of Edinburgh?”
She was intrigued and asked me to continue. I explained thus. “There’s an island, called Tanna in the South Pacific where they worship Phil the Greek.”
She looked alert, attentive and engaged!
I continued my creative spiel – “Years ago missionaries turned up and told the locals to repent of their cannibalism and knock it on the head with eating their neighbours. They turned to Christ in droves! They stopped snacking on each other and strangling widows!”
“Am I boring you?” I asked her. “No, carry on this is fascinating”, she replied.
“So the islanders forsook their cannibal gods and turned to Jesus. Tragically all this great work has stopped. You see the locals spot the Duke with the Queen on a trip to their island and they start to believe he is a god. They write to Phil and he sends them lovely photos to help them build a shrine to the consort of Queen Elizabeth!!
She was enjoying this cheeky but evangelistic spiel.
“He is so bang out of order,” I continued. “He should have told his wife and his worshippers – ‘Don’t worship me! Worship Christ the Lord!'”
The woman was absolutely enthralled and delighted with my parable. This led me to my final speech act.
“Do you think the Duke of Edinburgh can save people from their sins and help them out on the day of final judgment?”
She didn’t respond to my question but gospel seeds had been planted and it’s all thanks to bespoke evangelism.
To find out more about bespoke evangelism, read my new book and become a more imaginative disciple of King Jesus.