August 2021 Connection

Last Time, on Pastor Brian’s Newsletter Article:

Every evening, Grand Blanc’s Bicentennial Park is flooded with families all summer long. We’re talking kids of all ages, parents, grandparents, aunts uncles, etc. And they’re all there for the same purpose: little league sports! Now, imagine you’re part of a group from Grand Blanc UMC that commits to going to some of the games, all the while wearing a shirt with the Church name on the front and the words “Cheer Team” on the back. When you arrive at the fields, you simply sit in the stands and do the best job in the world: cheer on the kids! Now, one or two nights would pass by with out much comment, but eventually, a parent walks up to you and says, “Someone was here yesterday and the game before with that same shirt on. I’m just curious.” Your response is this simple: “Oh, yeah! I’m from Grand Blanc United Methodist Church. We’re really wanting to commit ourselves to caring for families in our community, and we thought an easy way to do that would be to make sure that every kid here would have at least one more person cheering them on.”

Evangelism, Right?

This is where we left our intrepid “Cheer Team” member in June’s article as we talked about the often-feared word, “evangelism.” Once more, my hope is that this word has shed some of the baggage it often comes with. Evangelism, after all, is simply the sharing of God’s good news. Sounds right up our alley, doesn’t it? So, how is cheering on little leaguers from a bench full of proud parents and even prouder grandparents evangelism? Let’s continue our story.

Continued…

After hearing the reason for church members gathering to cheer on kids to whom they are not even related, the parent turns and says the words almost no one associates with evangelism: “That’s great! Thanks for doing that!”
 
As the game continues, our cheering member keeps cheering on the kids, our curious parent does the next most surprising thing. He starts to tell our cheerleader a few things: “By the way, my name is Dave and my wife, Courtney, is the coach. That’s our son at first base, Michael.”
Pretty normal still, isn’t it?
 
With all of the courage in the world, you’re now ready to become a true evangelist. You turn to Dave and say, “It’s great to meet you guys. It’s been a long time since our kids played little league. It’s a real blast from the past sitting here again.”
 
Despite my feeble attempts at humor, did you notice that this conversation had between our Cheer Team church member and Dave sounds a lot like any other conversation you’ve ever had with anyone?! No pamphlets were handed out, scripture from the book of Habakkuk wasn’t recited by memory, and the bullhorn and floppy-paged Bible never made an appearance. But, still, it was evangelism.

How Was That Evangelism?

I’m happy you asked! (You did ask, didn’t you?) You see, you would likely never identify this bleacher-based conversation as evangelism, simply because 99.9% of people think of evangelism as a I’m-gonna-push-my-religion-in-your-face kind of thing, rather than a relationship kind of thing. But, this really was evangelism! This conversation, believe it or not, did share God’s good news with someone else. To see what I mean, listen in on this conversation had between Dave and Courtney after they got home from the baseball game, put kids to bed, and kicked their feet up for the evening:
 
Dave: (Using the remote to find their current binge-worthy show): Hey Courtney, did Michael go down okay? I think the snack that one of the moms brought had him pretty sugared-up!
 
Courtney: It took a little while, but he finally settled down. Then he looked at me and said, “Mommy, you’re the best coach!” You know, I didn’t really think I would like coaching, but I really do! I don’t really know what I’m doing, but its fun! And he says things like that!
 
Dave: (Laughing in agreement): You’re doing a great job. A bunch of the parents were talking about how great you are with the kids. By the way, did you see that guy from the church?
 
Courtney: If he wasn’t picking dandelions, you’ll have to be a bit more specific.
 
Dave: He was sitting next to me. He and his wife are from the Methodist Church, I think it was, and they just go and cheer on kids at the games.
 
Courtney: That’s kind of weird.
 
Dave: (Laughing) No! It’s a whole bunch of them. They try to go to every game. He told me that it’s their goal to make sure that every kid has someone to cheer them on.
 
Courtney: Okay, that’s actually kind of sweet.
 
Dave: They even had shirts! I don’t know, I thought it was cool!
 
For now, we’ll just leave Courtney and Dave in their living room and check in with the next article. But 2/3 of the way into the story, we have Dave and Courtney, young parents, feeling good knowing that there are people from a church nearby who care enough about kids to make sure every kid has someone cheering them on. Sounds like good news to me. I’m pretty sure Jesus would approve.
 
And that, friends, is evangelism done well. More to come next time.
 
Pastor Brian
 
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