Amplifying Evangelism—One Way to Amplify Our Gospel Witness...Unplug!
Okay, so this is how I would listen to records as a kid: I had a small stereo in my bedroom and my mom did not like me playing it too loud. I would put on The Who, Stevie Wonder, Super Tramp, or some other album, and lie on my back on the floor in the middle of my room. I had positioned two speakers facing each other about two feet apart. I would place my head directly between the speakers and turn the volume up as loud as I could without hitting a level that would bring my mom into the room.
In these occasional moments alone in my room, I could amplify my music to a level that I could hear nothing else. I could close my eyes and forget the world around me. I could block everything else out.
This experience I had as a kid is no longer a rare moment; it is now the norm…it is the world in which we live. So many people are plugged in and blocked out much of the time. We wear ear buds that pipe music, talk, or pump other content into our brains and we can’t hear anything else.
A couple of months ago I was riding on a train in Chicago and noticed that almost everyone riding near me had ear buds in. Instead of interacting with others, they were in their own little world. A couple of days ago I was on the other side of our world, walking down a main street in Sydney, Australia. And it was exactly the same. Ear buds were jammed in many people’s ears, including mine! There was very little human contact.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not anti-technology. I still love music. But, if we are going to bear the good news of Jesus to a world deeply in need of His love, we need to unplug. We need to have face-to-face encounters and conversations. We need to have human contact and choose to unplug more often.
Imagine two people with ear buds firmly in place. Both have their music playing. They try to have a conversation without removing their buds and without turning the volume down. How loud will they have to speak or yell to communicate with each other? The truth is, they can’t communicate in any meaningful way as long as they are plugged in.
In many situations, we don’t need to talk louder. Yelling does not help. Getting right into someone’s face is not the solution. The key is to look at each other, make human contact, and remove the distractions that keep us from communicating. Sometimes, this means literally taking out our ear buds. At other times, it means dialing back the rhetoric and polemical tone that is saturating conversations in our culture. In some situations, it means slowing down and noticing the people around us. It might mean reaching out and touching someone to get his or her attention.
As a young boy I would lie on bedroom floor, head placed between the speakers, and I could hear nothing else. When my mom knocked on my door, I could not hear her. When she came in, I did not know she was there because my eyes were shut and I was lost in the music. When she stood over me and yelled as loud as she could, I did not hear her. Finally, she would reach out gently and touch me. She would take my shoulder and shake me until I opened my eyes, turned off the music, and let my mind focus on her.
This is a growing part of evangelism today. Faith still comes by hearing, and hearing still comes by the word of God. But, conversations are becoming a rare treat rather than a common occurrence. And conversations about faith need a place with space and quietness that lends itself to depth and sincerity.
Part of our outreach is learning to unplug so we can hear the people around us. And part of outreach is helping others to unplug so we can have meaningful human connection. Here are some questions to ask yourself?
- What is your noise?
- How are you plugged in?
- How can you unplug, slow down, and create a place for meaningful conversations with the people in your life and those you encounter in the flow of a normal day?
- How can you reach out and get the attention of the people around you so they will see you, take out their buds (literal or metaphorical), and connect?
In some evangelistic encounters we need to amplify by bringing up the volume. In other situations, we can amplify by removing distractions and creating a quiet and intimate environment. In every circumstance, we need to be ready to tell the story of Jesus, and our story of being transformed by Jesus. But the story only connects if people can hear it.
I want to personally invite you to join me and a passionate team of leaders and communicators for the Amplify Conference this June 2016 and learn practical ways to create an environment where people can hear each other, converse, and interact about the person and message of Jesus.