Friday May 28, 2010 Brian McLaren “Evangelism and Transformation in a Secular Society”


Brian McLaren is in Victoria speaking at Christ Church Cathedral. The first session was last night and he is speaking for the whole day today. Brian is an extremely personable speaker; he is an entertaining storyteller. He presents with a lovely gentle, open spirit. He feels like a person you can trust.

Below are my notes from last night’s session. I will try to put up notes from today’s session tonight or tomorrow morning. Of course, I cannot reproduce the stories, but my notes should reflect accurately the content he presents.

Session I – “More Ready Than You Realize”

Just assume that lots of what I am going to say will simply be wrong. And wherever we disagree with each other, let’s just agree that you’re right.

You can always be prepared to answer the questions that were being asked in the 1970’s or even the 1870’s; but often we don’t even know what the questions are that are being asked today.

There are a lot of people who will talk to you about religion. But what people outside the church really want is someone who will listen to them.

People are not looking for someone in the sales department. They are looking for someone who is in service. They do not want to be put under pressure.

People are looking for a safe place where they can explore.

Defensiveness brings an end to the conversation.

A good model for evangelism: Serve – Leave – And don’t take an offering.

People outside the church would like us to drop the religious stuff and just be honest with them the way they want to be honest with us.

The problem with so much of what passes for evangelism is that it is so often associated with argument. But when you enter into argument, you have already lost because argument communicates something you do not want to communicate. People who argue tend to end up killing other people.

No one needs argument; people need conversation. People wish they had a safe, honest, intelligent person to talk to.

Don’t argue; don’t preach; respond with gentleness and respect.

People are staying away from church because they believe that if they become associated with us who are in the church, they will become worse people than they already are.

Is there a way to have faith without becoming close-minded, bigoted, anti-something?

People are interested in belonging before believing. They are interested in participation first. They want a chance to check things out before being required to make a commitment.

What validates what we say for people is when they come inside the church and find out that we are interested in how what’s going on outside the church has meaning.

How can we be there for people?

Whenever you teach people to love their enemies, you will end up making a lot of enemies.

There is a community dimension that is necessary to truly engaging with the Bible.

The traditional church pattern has been that we require people to BELIEVE; then they can BELONG; then we expect them to BEHAVE properly; then they become a missionary.

But in fact people come to believing through belonging and behaviour will take care of itself.

The behaviour you have to deal with as a church is beahviour that makes church an unsafe place for anyone. Would we rather have people here or not? If we can’t make it clear that we are a safe place, there will be lots of people willing to make it clear we are not a safe place.

If your idea is that we have to get the sin out of our church, church will never be safe for any of us.

People want to behave well; they are looking for a place to support them in behaving well.