Rethinking Evangelism

The other day I had the opportunity to have dinner with an old friend. His name is Ryan, and he is working as a producer and video editor in Hollywood. Ryan and some friends are about to launch a movie project. I asked him if it was going to be a Christian movie. He kind of smiled and said, “No it’s just enough to be a Christian in Hollywood.”

As we talked about his life in California and what God had showed him, I was struck by his clear understanding of how to engage the culture. Instead of make a cheesy, B-grade movie with an evangelistic theme, Ryan believes that God has called him to impact the culture in Hollywood by simply being like Jesus. Ryan never passed judgement on evangelistic films or the typical outreach playbooks used by many Christians. But he does seem to be taking them to task by his lifestyle.

In many circles, modern evangelism seems to center around an event, ministry, service or program. Evangelism must be pre-meditated, convenient. Typical evangelistic outreaches include some kind of performance, free food, “Christian” music, free childcare, activities, etc. People come, give their hearts to Jesus and go. It’s so efficient. While there may be follow-up, most people focus on the event and the connection is typically lost. It may have been a great thing. But it could be so much more.

By comparison, Ryan’s approach is more relationship based. It is slower and may not be easy to quantify. But it makes a long term difference in a few lives. This could produce a ripple that impacts thousands.

It’s not that one approach is right and one is wrong. They both have their place. But I do feel that the modern Church has ignored relationship evangelism in favor or evangelistic events and crusades. Quick shots are not what many need to really hear the message of Jesus.

Thinking about the Hollywood that Ryan described. It is a place were celebrity is everything. There is very little loyalty and no real sense of family. He wants his production company to be a place for people to encounter a better way of doing business. Instead of yelling at people and using intimidation to get things done, which evidentally is typical for Hollywood, Ryan hopes to bring a sense of respect and community to his work. In Hollywood where there is a lot of fear because people mainly work on projects and have long period of unemployment or odd jobs, Ryan hopes to model a life of faith. In an industry full of drugs and escapism, he intends to show these things as mere counterfeits for the Holy Spirit and God’s power.

Our coversation is really making me rethink evangelism. Maybe my mission field might have been under my nose all along. Maybe it is every place I go and encounter that I have. Evangelism is not an event or campign. It is a way of life.

You can find Ryan’s Web site at: Tandem Arts

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