Excuse the pun. Last weekend I was away at some training for my Foundation For Ministry course with the Navigators. It’s a three year course covering basics in modules for ministry. This year we’re looking at
- Personal development and growth
- Old Testament
- Church History
We have a load of assignments set, and some reading to do before a set of “away days” which occur (I think) 3 times a year. So last week was my first set. And it was pretty intense, I’ve described it as training with meals slotted in. We spent half a day on each module and had lunch to keep us going.
But what struck me, stood out? It was a side illustration, the students were split into two groups. The Scottish lot and the English lot, no I don’t think Navigators have an official policy on Scottish independence. And two of us, myself and another lady were set apart and told to wait outside the room. The two groups left in the room were given bags of lego and told to make models of their cities.
Make sense? I hope so.
So off they start, making – building. Then the instructor came outside and spoke to me and this women who had been set apart. He gave us each a bag of RED lego pieces and said. “I want you to go back into the room, and join up with one of the groups each. And I want you to make sure that every model they make has a RED piece in it. At the moment the groups don’t have any RED pieces. So your job is to get your red pieces into every model they make – whatever it takes. Right? Go.”.
So we saunter back in the room and get to work. My tactic was to go over to Scotland and empty my bag over their left over pieces and sit down with them and just help. Luckily they were accepting of me and not very suspicious….After 10 minutes… These are our results. Mine is the one on the right. Smug face.
As you can probably work out, the RED pieces were supposed to be the Gospel and the models were supposed to be our relationships and conversations with the people who don’t know Jesus. But the instructors point wasn’t to tell us this is what we should be doing. It was rather to show us what works and what isn’t helpful.
If this whole story made any sense, which I hope it does, below are some of the things I’ve had wurring around in my mind since.
- When the instructor told us we had to get the red pieces into their models “whatever it takes!”. Immediately there was pressure, this was no longer a fun activity, I was competing. I learnt from this that I need to be very careful how I encourage other people to “do” evangelism. Making them feel guilty or pressured won’t help the situation.
- The whole time I was trying to insert red into the unknowing Scotland team’s models. I felt deceptive. I felt like I was not being honest. I had an agenda. Automatically in my mind, it was them and me – even though they didn’t see it that way. I think this is SOOOO unhelpful in our own evangelism. Our goal is not to have the “conversation” or bring up faith, talk about church in every relationship. It is to help them, by being light and salt, we have the “pieces” that they need for their “models”. When we believe that the Jesus we know and have is going to bring our friends and colleagues “life and life to it’s fullest”, it helps.
- The other lady, trying to “infiltrate” the England group was less successful – her image on the left. She tried to put the red pieces in herself, whereas I gave my team all my pieces and let them build the red into the models. I think there is an underestimated power in being passive and prayerful (obviously wasn’t praying in this exercise) instead of being overpowering and active. (Although there must be a time for each approach).
- Finally, when I was initially given the instructions, I asked the guy ‘Hey, can I tell the group what I’m trying to do?’ He said ‘No.’…I know that if I had told the group my motive, I would have definitely felt more guilty. But I probably wouldn’t have been able to get any pieces in. As they might be suspicious in response to honesty. This is life. But where does that leave me in evangelism. Do my friends know that I want them to know Jesus? My closest do. But should everyone? Unanswered as of today.
This activity, was so profound for me, it wasn’t even the main point of the instructor’s teaching. I don’t think he even really walked through the implications explicitly. But I reckon these 10 minutes have had a big impact on the way I look at evangelism. I’m still dealing with unanswered questions and processing lines of thinking a week later.