Tag Archives: evangelism

Out of the Salt Shaker

When people have been following God for a long time, it’s easy to stay in our bubbles. Most of the time, we don’t like to be challenged. But God has called us to make a difference in our world. We have to get out of our bubbles. Or out of the saltshaker. Jesus says we are salt in Matthew 5:13.

Rebecca Manley Pippert wrote a book titled “Out of the Saltshaker” in 1979. I saw her speak about this topic not long after that. Her line of thinking stuck with me since then. That shows you how powerful it is!

Simply: if we stay inside the saltshaker, we will have no effect. We must rub shoulders with people who have no salt in their lives – those who do not know the presence of God. Jesus goes on to say that we need to speak with our deeds. That’s sometimes the best way we can be heard.

Here are some practical suggestions:

  1. If you’re in a Bible study with other Jesus followers, quit – and start one with friends who don’t know Jesus. The Bible is a strange book to those who aren’t familiar with it. “Let’s look at the Bible to see how relevant its message is to today’s world.”
  2. You don’t know anyone who doesn’t know Jesus? Time to get out of the saltshaker…
  3. Join a club. Find out groups which meet in your town that fit your natural interests.
  4. Start a club. Who doesn’t like to eat out? And what about joining with others in your favorite weekend activities?
  5. Make friends with international students at your local college or university. Many have never met anyone outside of their classes or dorm. International Students Inc. can help you meet students from another country.

Have fun!

(Paul Merrill writes here every First Friday.)


unlikely evangelist

No one in Israel would have said that the person to follow to a rabbi would be a Samaritan woman adulteress.

The only people that she would have been able to lead anywhere were people who knew her and saw what that rabbi had done for her.

People in and out of church know all about evangelism. People inside know the gutwrenching fear of having to walk up to some random house, knock on the door, and say, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” or “Do you know where you would spend eternity if you died tonight” or “what kind of church would you be interested in if you could design it” or some other script taught by well-meaning evangelism instructors. People outside know the sheer confusion of having someone knock on their door and say, “Goddowhatlovesyoukindyouknowofandwherechurchhell?”

You can fill in your own stories of pain and fear and confusion and annoyance, of “bait and switch” and direct marketing and being a notch in someone’s belt. And even the terms inside and outside hurt.

In the ending to the story about the aforementioned Samaritan woman adulteress, the people from her village talk about why they decided to follow Jesus.

“At first we came to see him because we couldn’t believe how he had made you an honest woman. Then we couldn’t believe that he actually was willing to stay with us for two whole days (a Jew in our ceremonially unclean village). And then we listened to what he said, about us, about God, about himself.

They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

Relationships. With her. With Him.

harvesting happens year round

Jesus is sitting on the edge of a well. His disciples are standing around him. They are holding sandwiches. He is holding forth.

Do you know, he says, what fills my belly more than those sandwiches you are holding? Do you know what makes me get up in the morning, what so captivates me that I don’t even notice when I’m hungry? Do you know why I am so focused when I’m in a conversation that matters?

“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

You know how you say, “we’ve got plenty of time. No need to hurry. The harvest isn’t coming for four months.” You, dear friends, are fooling yourselves. Look at the fields. They are ripe.

At which point, the disciples would have begun to nudge each other. Jesus may have been a great rabbi, but he was a lousy farmer. The fields around the disciples couldn’t have been ripe.

If they had been ripe, the disciples could have grabbed handfuls of grain. By law, if they were hungry, they could have snacked as they walked.

And Jesus, knowing their thoughts, may well have laughed out loud at that point.

“Open your eyes! Look!”

And as they grudgingly turned around, they would have seen what Jesus saw. Bobbing along the path from the village, looking for all the world like waves of wheat, were the white robes and tanned faces and curly hair of the people coming to find out what the woman had been talking about.

Sometimes, Jesus says, all you have to do is show up. Stop trying to do everything. Be glad that you are part of a team. The conversation may come to you. The questions may come to you.  And I’m here, too.