1. “I wish I hadn't brought a friend”
My friend was urged by his pastor to bring a friend to an upcoming men's event, where a special guest (prominent in the Anglican church) was coming to speak. He did this, and his friend accepted. What happened next was shame.
The guest speaker was poorly prepared. In fact, he hadn't prepared at all, and told the attendees that. Instead of speaking, he opened up the event to questions.
This made a terrible impression on the unbelieving guest (“You couldn't even be bothered to prepare?!”), and my friend wish he'd never asked his colleague. It will take a very long time for my friend to extend an invitation to an evangelistic event again.
What elements can result in a bad evangelistic event? Here's a couple:
- Lack of preparation by the speaker.
- Poor emceeing/hosting. Particularly when it distracts from the main message.
- Cringe elements.
- Unexplained Christian elements (launching into prayer without explaining what you're doing).
- Using Christian jargon. This is hard – because it's so entrenched in Christian culture we often don't even know we're doing it.
- Using unnecessary Christian elements – for example, congregational singing. You might disagree, but in a culture where singing in groups is unusual, I think this is unnecessary.
- Not delivering on the promoted theme. This can be perceived as a ‘bait and switch'.
- Taking too long to get to the promoted theme.
What would you add to this list?
Whatever the elements, these things can have a lasting impact, and result in you being far less likely to invite a friend in future.
2. “I wish I had brought a friend”
The second thought is related to the first.
Many Christians won't bring a friend to an evangelistic event because their experiences with these events in the past has been so poor.
But not all events are poor. Some events are well executed – sensitive, low on cringe and high on clear gospel communication. That's certainly our prayer and desire with the Search for Success with Francis Chan and John Lennox this August.
And when these events are good, Christians leave thinking “I wish I had brought a friend to this event.”
The challenge, of course, is that Christians don't know what to expect. They hear about evangelistic events, but don't know if it will be one where they wish they hadn't brought a friend, or one where they wish they had!
Pastors and event organisers might dismiss this and say “You shouldn't worry about this – your responsibility is just to invite friends and allow God to do the rest.”
But to this, I would say:
If you, as the event organiser have enough confidence in the quality of this event to invite your friends – I'll consider doing the same.