Sunday, August 30, 2009

Coffee Shop Witnessing

The other night I went off to the coffee shop to continue my reading, seems like that is almost all I do these days. So in comes a young couple, Kenny and Sarah. They began to chat with the barrista who sent them in my direction, figuring a theologian was better able to deal with their questions of heaven. So over they come and Kenny begins asking me if I'm born again. Like many evangelicals he was looking for certain phrases that would indicate I was actually what he considers a "real" Christian. I was happy to brush aside much of the probing and ask them some questions about themselves and what they were up to that night. Fortunately Kenny had heard about the Vineyard so they found me relatively safe.

So here is what is interesting, Kenny and Sarah are on their first date. I ended up praying for them and hopefully encouraging them. In fact what they were doing was pretty cool, going out trying to follow God's leading to share "the gospel" with folks. Unfortunately, Sarah didn't do much of the talking and Kenny had pretty simple notions of what this "gospel" was supposed to be. I think challenging them would have messed up something more interesting that was happening - they were living out their convictions and trying to bless people.

Now there probably was another side of this, see Kenny is courting Sarah so in evangelical culture sharing the gospel with strangers can be akin to slaying a dragon or bringing home the bacon. But it seemed like Sarah was the instigator. Earlier that evening she had made some brownies and they went to a random door with them and "the gospel". Turns out they were led to another Christian who they blessed with a bible and snackage. Nice. I imagine Sarah's brownies were pretty good as she was out to impress the new "man". But in the midst of this interesting courting ritual Sarah and Kenny were doing something pretty cool.

So here I am sitting with these really nice young people. I'm dodging the occasional probe to see if I'm really an evangelical Christian, the barristas' are cringing (they apologized to me later, unnecessary but also pretty nice) and I find out this is their first date. Nice. So I decide to encourage them and ask to pray. I think they will continue to have some really interesting encounters. I hope that they do it long enough to let their ideas of "the gospel" mature. I also hope they end up encouraging many people with their witnessing. Bless you Kenny and Sarah, thanks for witnessing to me.


Joy Harmony said...

This is too funny.

I posted about it Lol, how Christians Date

I love the part about 'asking me if I'm born again. Like many evangelicals he was looking for certain phrases that would indicate I was actually what he considers a "real" Christian.'

It struck a cord since I recently commented about the same issue: 'As far as I can tell, Christianity (as currently practiced) is more concerned with “are you born again?” than with helping others…'

Here is a funny story about how to identify a real Christian from Out of the Question ... into the Mystery, page 29:

'''Measure Faith

Separating wheep from goats is a favorite preoccupation of the Church. Who's in and who's out? And how do we distinguish between the two?

There's an old story about a notorious bandit in the Far East who had been badly injured and taken to a Christian mission hospital. After weeks of excellent care, the bandit recovered from his injuries. He was so grateful for the treatment he received taht he resolved he would never again rob a Christian.

The world got around, and everyone he tried to rob would immediatly say "I'm a Christian". And so the robber was faced with a problem: How can you tell whether a person who claims to be Christian really is''' (end of quote)


And so the question today still is: How do you tell?

And does it even matter, why should you even try to find out?

I love how you avoided answering the question ...

One of Freedom said...

It definitely brightened up my day (I was having a frustrating one up to that point). That is probably because I love seeing how people go about navigating their ideas in social contexts. Because I like pushing boundaries, I really enjoy leaving that room for doubt. But you are quite right, the penchant for identifying people is part of the witness theology orientation. It is also why evangelicals, with all their talk of truth, are not interested in seeking for truth. Their primary objective is to prove to themselves and others that they have the "truth" in whatever ideas have currency in their particular flavour of Christian tradition. That is the side of witness theology that I find less than helpful beyond swelling a congregation with ideologically similar folk.