One lengthy handout helped fill in and make Swanson’s talk stick. FYI he’s a blogger catch him here. I won’t record them here but he has a tone of thoughtful, timely illustrations from actual Christians and churches who live externally focused lives.

What’s happening the church today?: Swanson uses Barna, UnChristian and Thom Rainer (industry standards) to exegete the state f the church today. Here’s some notable quotes: “roughly half of all churches in America did not add one new person through conversion growth last year”; “In America, it takes the combinded effort of eighty-five Christians working over an entire year to produce one convert”; “in the next year in the US 1300 churches will be started BUT 3750 churches will close”. “98% of church growth is by transfer growth as smaller churches close their doors and growth is consolidated into fewer, though larger churches.”

Evangelism needs to be more holistic (mercy buzzword meaning that it needs to focus on the whole range of needs from psychological, social/relational, physical, economic, creational, etc.) and old dichotomies between word and deed, between material and immaterial need to be broken down: There is a new Gnosticism in our age that says that they only thing God cares about is getting people into heaven. Swanson mentions the Engel scale and says that it focuses too much on what you ‘know’ and not what you ‘do’. Instad we need to have the Good News move people from antagonism to enthusiam. This isn’t a new idea, he points to 1) the early churches history of mission; 2) the Celtic Christian movement; and 3) the Weslian missions movement [to fill this out see Robert Webber’s Ancient/Future book series].

Good deeds create good will which opens the door to good news: Steve Childers say people need 12-20 bumps before they come to faith. “100% of the time you will be asked, “who are you?” “Why are you doing this?”

Good deeds is not good news: “People left to their own will intuitively arrive at the wrong conclusion. See Acts 2:12 and how it is followed by Peter’s sermon; or how Barnabus and Paul in Acts 14 follow up the miracle with a message. “faith comes from hearing…” Rom. 10:17. There needs to be an intentionality in bringing service to the conversation about what God has done in His Son. “Deeds verify the words…words clarify the meaning of deeds.”

Arguments without evidence: Service is the evidence that makes apologetics meaninful in today’s world. We’re kingdom workers not social workers, but kingdom living makes powerful arguments in the polis as well as the courtroom of doubt.

Practical Ideas: Learn to recognize the “God moment” in evangelism. Have healthy agnosticism coupled with absolute certainty. Use a conversational approach in evangelism and don’t be afraid to use the art of ‘listening’ to them in the conversation. Let them talk 25 minutes and you share 5 minutes. Also know the different models for conversation and use ones that are approapriate to them. Pay attention to the differences in these two ways of conversing laid out by Swanson:

  • monologue…dialogue
  • compelling proof…compelling story
  • presentation…conversation
  • words…images
  • our language…their language
  • us/them…fellow travelers
  • count conversions…count conversations
  • front door approach…back door [or side] door approach
  • fishing from the bank…swimming with fish
  • believe to belong…belong to believe
  • event driven…context driven
  • come and see…go and be
  • scripted…spontaneous
  • winning…nudging
  • gospel presentation…gospel experience