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58. Mashed Potato Christians

Boiled Potatoes

Mashed PotatoesBob Elliot's reaction to the Christian disco did not consider that teenagers were reaching other teenagers for Christ. They were mingling like "mashed potato Christians." Bob's conventional evangelism image was a "boiled potato one" and didn't include flashing lights and pop music. He had closed his mind to this unique approach because it didn't have the usual evangelistic trappings.
1. It wasn't in church!
2. Rousing hymns didn't accompany it.
3. It wasn't conveniently closed off with an appeal and coffee afterward in the church hall.
To take a good-humored slap at these well-tried and accepted methods does not mean that I am inferring that they are no longer any use! In the service of our Lord Jesus Christ, we should seek to adapt to the needs of the individual or group we are addressing. However, to become "mashed potatoes" rather than "boiled potatoes" is not always an easy thing to do.

Young Christian Ways

Youth TrioYoung Christians enjoy exciting ways of bringing youth to faith, including Christian disco and coffee bar evangelism. Fortunately, young Christians still find Christian ways of reaching their peers with the Gospel. The Christian disco and coffee bar are just two evangelism vehicles, which I have found useful on many occasions with teenagers. These are not the only ways, nor will they necessarily be the best ones for everyone. They are not intended as a substitute for ongoing youth ministry in a church either, but they are valuable within such a setting. These are not answers to teenage problems nor organizational tips that will help you succeed with your group. However, they are two relatively new ways of gathering a crowd of young people where they can hear the Gospel. I hope that what you will gain will be an insight into some new Christian ways of bringing your youngsters to a living faith in Christ. Perhaps you will see that the Christian Disco or Christian Coffee Bar can be an exciting frontier of Christian outreach for you and your fellowship.

Reaching Young People

Knowing GodChristian disco and coffee house evangelism for reaching young people can effectively instill essential Christian truth. The Christian disco and the Christian coffee house might appear at first glance to be the same or at least very similar, but in actuality, they take quite different and distinctive approaches. The Christian disco, on the one hand, is a teaching vehicle of essential Christian truth. It aims to present a summary of the Gospel through Christian music and short talks. The Christian coffee house uses table talk as its chief vehicle for essential Christian truth, and in a sense, the music is secondary or even background.

The Didache

This process is like the early church's "Didache," also known as "the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles," dating back to the first century AD. The teaching of the Good News told us who Jesus was, how he lived, died, rose again, and why. The "Didache" was and is the core teaching or essential Christian truth about what Jesus did and, by extension, what he is doing today through the work of the Holy Spirit. The setting and the mode may be modern, but the Christian truth is the same as that preached and gossiped by the first Christians in Galilee and Rome. This truth may be applied in a new language using contemporary thought forms and Christian music, but it is still the same as ever. The "Basic Principles" section will give further clarification. The Christian coffee house seeks to go much further than this primary teaching of essential truth in that it also aims to draw out a reaction from those who are listening. The Coffee House is, therefore, set out differently. The music is more subdued. Conversation and counseling are more critical.

Youth Evangelism Activities

Hand StandSpecific gifted individuals may include youth evangelism activities to reach young people for Christ and hold their attention. There was once a street preacher who was renowned for his brand of youth evangelism activities. Choosing the right spot on a street corner or a wide walkway, he drew a stick of chalk out of his pocket and very carefully began to mark a large circle on the ground! As he worked, he began to speak about his faith. Next, he gently placed the palms of his hands within the ring and kicked his feet up into a handstand, still expounding his message! This unusual and eccentric youth evangelism activity quickly gathered a crowd of curious onlookers. "What's wrong? Is someone hurt?" a voice from the back asked. Then, on sighting the upturned feet, he asked, "Does he do any other tricks?"

Interested Audience

When the preacher feels that the group is large enough, he leaps to his feet and addresses his hearers regarding their relationship with God. A unique and unusual kind of youth evangelism attracts a lot of interest. It is an excellent way of drawing an interested audience. Few of us would want or be able to emulate these handstands for God! However, we should recognize that many people need an extra special effort to attract and hold their attention. Like these youth evangelism activities, the teenagers at a Christian Disco or Coffee Bar may require that essence of the unusual to retain their interest. They also want to feel comfortable with their surroundings.

Disco Evangelism

Disco evangelism should be thought-provoking for young people and an essential means of reaching them with the Gospel.

For how long? Once in a while (every two months?) Five days over a week every two months?
When? Outside term time evening or afternoon Outside term time evening
Appeal? School friends A wider group
Lighting? Soft color but light enough to read by Dim but supplemented by the color disco lights
Counter? Important Secondary
Literature? Important Secondary
Counseling? Important Secondary
Talks? Thought-provoking important Challenging
Music? Not too loud for conversation Loud of best quality

"Mashed Potato Christians"
by Ron Meacock © 1982-2021

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