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During early church times the gospel of Jesus was shared orally from person to person, in small groups, house churches and assemblies. Inexpensive printing in the 20th century allowed for the introduction of tracts as the method of choice. Many tracts could be produced at a low cost and provided for whole congregations. By the end of the 20th century every church, pastor, and evangelist seemed to have written their own tract that was customized to their liking. The 21st century has brought some changes. Many unchurched began to see Christian witness tracts in the same light as junk mail or multi-level marketing promotion brochures. It’s time for Christians to change approaches to witnessing.
ORALITY EVANGELISM AND DISCIPLESHIP
Before his death, Avery Willis developed a new ministry called The International Orality Network which focuses on sharing the gospel of Jesus orally—as it was shared in Jesus’ time. Why is this important? In the USA, 28% of the population is either illiterate or functionally illiterate. Another 44% of Americans never read a single book (1993 Department of Education, USA, (http://www.efmoody.com/miscellaneous/illiteracy.html). That means that as many as 72% of Americans would not be able to read a gospel tract or would not trouble themselves to do so. Many of them do have mobile phones on which they often communicate by texting, so they do read short phrases.
Most people will not even begin to read a Bible tract. It is foolish for Christians to feel they have done their evangelistic duty simply by leaving a tract.
The time has come for every Christian to learn to share their faith orally. Oral evangelism may involve simple drawings and writing to hold the attention of the one with whom the gospel is being shared. “Napkin Evangelism” is one method of oral sharing of the gospel. There is nothing more effective in sharing the gospel than to personally CONNECT by sharing while looking into the eyes of the one who needs to receive Christ. The pictographs on the napkin serve to keep both–the sharer and the listener–focused.
There is nothing more effective in sharing the gospel than to personally CONNECT by sharing while looking into the eyes of the one who needs to receive Christ. The pictographs on the napkin serve to keep both–the sharer and the listener–focused.
My dad was a salesman who loved to meet people at the local coffee shop of his day–Waffle House. I sometimes watched as he interacted with a client or even a student salesman as he wrote pithy notes on the back of a napkin. I saw that his method kept both he and his listener engaged. In fact there is a little book on the subject written to salesmen–The Back of the Napkin.
Don’t negate the use of drawing and writing on a napkin. Besides, I have discovered that a waiter or waitress may read a napkin that is left behind and receive Christ. While they may quickly throw away Bible tracts, they may be just curious enough to look at your doodling. Imagine that your lunch partner received Christ and then the waitress also received Christ! With God, all things are possible.
Please share your “napkin evangelism” stories as comments.
(Napkin and Oral Evangelism are included in my Make Disciples Conferences. Consider hosting a conference at your church.) This training will also be included in the soon to be published Simple Discipleship: Disciple-Maker’s Toolkit.
Dr. Tom Cocklereece, The Disciplist
Simple Discipleship: How to Make Disciples in the 21st Century was published and released by Church Smart Resources in November 2009. It is not a self-published book. To learn more about Simple Discipleship and to order the book, follow the link below:
Dr. Tom Cocklereeceis CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC
Author “Simple Discipleship,” contributing writer L2L Blogazine
He is a pastor, an author, professional coach, and leadership specialist
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