In Lansing, Mich., a group of us were learning how to survey communities to understand lostness. As we walked through our assigned neighborhood, my partner and I met an 18 year-old carrying two huge bags of disposable diapers. We stopped and asked how we could pray for him. He said he was really scared to be a new Dad. The diapers were for the baby that he and his 19 year-old girlfriend were expecting. It impressed him that we prayed for him right on the spot. We then offered to lead a Bible study in his home with his girlfriend. He said, “You mean I could invite anyone I wanted to attend?” We said yes and arranged a time the very next week when someone from the church could start.
The PRAYER-CARE-SHARE strategy of the Mission America Coalition’s LOVE2020 works particularly well in the context of orality. It means conveying the Gospel aurally (talking), but also using oral methods that involve listening and intentionally engaging in highly relational disciple-making in small groups that can become churches.
Steve Hawthorne, editor of Perspectives, a missions course, once told me he had noticed a trend that the front door of the church is the home. And when you take God’s Word in oral formats into a home to study, then it becomes a larger doorway for praying, caring, and sharing Jesus.
We have a mixture of people who are far from a relationship with Jesus in America. One size does not fit all. A colleague once boasted, “There’s only two people in America – lost and saved.” Generic presentations that treat all lost the same rarely produces a harvest, especially if all you know are literate presentations. Yet, we buy what worked over here. And we’ll try what might have worked over there. By ignoring learning preferences – typically oral or literate – an evangelistic approach is often unnecessarily confrontational or doesn’t relate to their thinking preferences. We just can’t keep blaming hard hearts among the lost. Meanwhile, they’re looking for anything that will fill their empty spiritual void.
Note: This blog was excerpted from my chapter in “Orality in America.” Download the free special report produced for the Mission America Coalition https://newsletter.missionamerica.org/2016/OralityinAmerica-July16.pdf