Summary: This sermon deals with new methods of evangelism in the 21st century.
“Garage Door Evangelism”
INTRODUCTION: In Dary Northrop’s book, Garage Door Evangelism, he discusses some new ways to “do church” in the 21st century. He says that often churches give a picture of perfection--only the beautiful Front Door Image. People who are not used to going to church are fearful of entering because they are afraid they can’t live up to the image. Weary of disappointment and failure, people want to know that we are real--genuine and that what we claim to be really matches our lives. What do people see during the week as you live your lives on the job or wherever you go? Do they perceive you as a “Pat Answer” Christian who tries to convince them that when they come to Christ it will solve all of their problems? Do they perceive you as a Christian who speaks one thing and lives another? We want people to see us as we are, genuinely trusting the Lord in our pain and struggles. Do they see us as we really are knowing that, “Yes, Christ does make a difference?”
Dary says that we should open the garage doors of our churches and our lives so that “what you see is what you get.” That is probably a little scary to some of us as we try to live up to a certain image of a Christian. If we open the garage door of our lives to people, we are afraid they will judge us or criticize us. They might disagree with our opinions, it might reveal our lack of spirituality and knowledge of the Bible, they may see that we don’t have all the answers to life’s problems. But at the same time, people can get a glimpse of our interests, our hobbies, our work, the things that bring us joy in our life in spite of the clutter and mess we are still trying to clean up in our lives.
Most of us are more prepared for the front door than for the garage door. We would rather convince others that we are who we would like to become rather than who we really are. We wonder if people would still like us and accept us if they discover things about us that we would never tell them.
When people look into the garage of our house they may say, “What a Mess!! This place is terrible!! Maybe say, “this person is really organized. This is so neat. Or this person loves gardening, or skiing, or motorcycles or any number of things.”
Let’s take a look at bringing people into the church by way of the garage door rather than the beautiful front door. Well, you say, “Churches don’t have literal garage doors.” Right, but what I am getting at is that we allow people to see how Christianity is affecting our real lives all week long, not just on Sunday morning. Is it real to us? Does it make a difference like we say it does? People today want to experience an authentic faith. We must be able to create hope in people who sometimes view us as more spiritual than we really are. When we admit our faults before people discover them, we succeed in building bridges of trust rather than barriers. They, too, have a garage. We must be willing to connect with those outside the church walls.
Actually Northrop’s book is not a brand new concept. In today’s scripture Paul had the same idea. How can we become more effective in conveying the Good News to people around us?
1. Adaptable: Paul says in verse 19, “I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people for Christ.” He says, “to the Jews I became like the Jews to win the Jews.”
“to those not having the law I became like one not having the law.”
“to the weak I became weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”
Paul adapted himself to the religious, non-religious, those with meticulous morality, loose living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized--whoever, in order that he might win some.
He quickly adds though-- “I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ, but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their of point of view.”
For too long we have asked people to break all ties with the publicans and sinners not realizing that God put those same people in their lives for a purpose.
ILLUSTRATION: Is there anyone who saw the movie, Orange County? A very good student from an extremely dysfunctional family wanted to get away from his family because he wanted to be a writer. He had applied for college at Stanford, and he was extremely upset when he found out that his guidance counselor had sent the wrong person’s transcript, and he was denied admission. He met the professor who was his idol and he told this boy, “You don’t have to come to Stanford to become a writer. You are ALREADY a writer. You don’t have to isolate yourself from these dysfunctional people. They are there for you and you are there for them.”