Observational Evangelism, by JR

  • July 4, 2014

I was honored to have been invited by my brother to perform his wedding recently. At the same time, I knew that most of the people at the wedding, including my brother and his fiance, would be nominal Christians at best. So, I really had to think about the most appropriate way to frame my remarks as the minister.


Through no grand strategizing, I decided that what would be best would be for me to consider the “good and beautiful” attributes of God and how I had seen glimpses of these expressed in the “good and beautiful” life of the happy couple.


The response was nearly overwhelming! I have done a lot of weddings but never have so many people approached me to comment or have a conversation about what I shared in my brief homily. I attribute this not to any grand rhetorical skill, but to the allure of God and the gospel when put forth as beautiful and as something that can be reflected in the lives of those made in his image despite their own recognition or allegiance to that reality.


My observation coming out of this weekend had to do with the stark difference between what I might call “confrontational evangelism,” which seeks to engage those who may be far from Christ based on arguments over truth claims, and “observational (or invitational) evangelism,” which seeks to engage people who may be far from Christ based on observing (and inviting them to observe) where and how God might already be reflected in their own lives and contexts. It seemed that this happening in the space of a wedding ceremony was significant and formational experience for many who were there. I put myself at the front of that list!