Saturday, November 10, 2012

Using Supernatural Experiences in Evangelism, Part Two

In my previous post (read it here), I wrote about how I used a story about a supernatural experience to witness to an agnostic friend. I do not think a person has to be a pastor to use this method of evangelism. During a summer youth camp, I asked a group of young people if they had experienced any supernatural phenomena in their own lives. Most of the people in the group did not grow up in Christian homes, and very few of them were able to articulate their faith using theological terms. Yet one by one they shared stories of brain tumors shrinking, parents’ marriages being put back together, victory over various addictions, and a variety of physical healings. Though some of them had not yet made commitments to become Christians, the vast majority did believe there was a God because of their supernatural experiences. 

Those experiences are part of the process postmodern people work through in their journey toward Christ. It is important to note that supernatural experiences alone are unlikely to result in a solid commitment to Christ, but when they are coupled with a powerful Scripture or two, they speak volumes to postmodern young people.

Squire Rushnell has gathered stories of these kinds of experiences across America in his book When God Winks. He calls these experiences Godwinks. Rushnell believes that when we have an experience that can only be described as supernatural, it is actually God winking at us to remind us that He is there and He is involved in our lives. Rushnell is a veteran ABC network television executive whose leadership saw the Good Morning America program rise to number one in its time slot and its ratings increase by 140 percent. He also developed the acclaimed Schoolhouse Rock series and the ABC After-School Specials, which earned seventy-five Emmy Awards during his career. He left that lucrative and powerful career to travel the nation sharing how we can know for sure that God is real because of the Godwinks that happen to us regularly. Books like Rushnell’s can be powerful witnessing tools to help postmodernists realize that God is real and He wants to be involved in our lives.
We must remind young people that there is a fine line between genuine miraculous experiences and slippery con artists. The media tends to promote the more bizarre experiences and often ignores the smaller Godwinks that are happening all around us. Yet these smaller Godwinks that happen on a regular basis are more important in displaying the existence of God than some of the more bizarre reports that make it on the news. As our culture has become more secular in nature, many people feel less connected to the divine than they once were.  This sense of disconnection causes great anxiety for many people because deep down inside, we know that something is “up there somewhere.”  This sense that something bigger than us is out there fuels postmodern spirituality. This should not be surprising since God is the one who put eternity in our hearts (Eccles. 3:11).
However, knowing that something is up there somewhere is dierent than actually knowing Christ in a personal way. As Christians, we must at some point actually share the gospel with our postmodern friends. When that moment comes, we must make sure we do not undermine all the hard work it took to move through the process. I will write more about that in my next post.

Adapted from Dr. Dorsett’s book, Mission Possible: Reaching the Next Generation through the Small Church, published by CrossBooks, a division of Lifeway Christian Resources.

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