How Are We To Spread the News?: Bible Thumping, Thermometers, and Radical Service


Image by Ryan McGeeney

Often the greatest difficulty of missional work is to know how to preach the gospel. Growing up, I tried a wide assortment of “sharing your faith” forms. While optimistic when learning them, I soon came to realize that they were none to successful. In fact, now when looking back, I am somewhat embarrassed that I thought they would ever work or that I even went through with them.

No doubt there were many different types or methods of sharing your faith, but these are a few that I explored…or perhaps endured….as a developing Christian.

The “Mime” Play With A Moral/Scriptural Twist

In my young teens, a group of the high schoolers decided that we would go on a mission trip to San Francisco and sharing our faith through acting out mimed plays. I am not sure who came up with the “brilliant” idea to paint our faces all white with accent blacks and act as mimes everywhere we went, but that is what we did. We learned several skits based on people finding Christ and being freed or how the devil controls everyone and their sin.

And there we stood on street corners in major cities throughout California acting out our plays. While I am unsure if anyone was touched deep within their soul, for the most part people just gawked at the “weirdo” Christians. There wasn’t much success in sharing the gospel, but that was what we were trying to do. Without words, we tried to share the love of Jesus Christ through mediocre skits and plays, a symptom of a community which was culturally dislocated and out-of-touch.

The Thermometer “Share Jesus Without Fear”

A few years later, the “Share Jesus Without Fear” program swept through our church. I remember the Sunday distinctly as we sat through a crackly VHS “presentation” of a middle-aged and somewhat “frumpy” man (nothing wrong with frumpy, just a symptom of early to mid-nineties film—especially Christian film!) explaining how people are like a baking turkey. I had odd images of people’s faces on Thanksgiving birds basting and broiling in the oven, a curious image of how to think about people who are lost. “All we need to do,” the man explained, “is check how people are cooking by sticking in the thermometer of scripture.” And with that, made a curious sound mimicking the puncturing of juicy cooked meat with a thermometer, pluuulaaath.

And so we were given special bibles which had specific highlighted verses which we had people read. Our mission, if we chose to except it, was to start random conversations with people in line at the store, sitting at the coffee shop, or wherever else all with the objective of inserting a few key questions right off the bat. They are still ingrained in me even today. “Do you have any kind of spiritual beliefs?” “To you, who is Jesus?” “Do you think there is a heaven and hell? “If you died, where would you go?” “If what you are believing is wrong, would you want to know?”

Now these questions are great and I have used them many times, but never successfully with people I don’t already know. Maybe it is just me, but every time I tried this method, it was incredibly awkward and unnatural. “Hi there Frank, I am Jon. By the way, do you have any spiritual beliefs” while we stand in line at the bank never really worked out for me.

Radical Service and Relationship

It wasn’t until a few years ago when God brought me to a new community of believers to which I now belong, that I learned a more healthy form of ministry and preaching the gospel. Community Bible Church in San Bernardino, CA became a place where I learned to serve and intentionally live in peoples lives through which I could not just speak the truth of Jesus Christ, but show them through my actions of everyday living. And while these methods of sharing faith all shared the common burden of preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ, it was not recently that I discovered that all Christians are missionaries. In which ever context we are called, whether it be everyday work, relationships with old High School friends, or the call to a foreign country—we are all on mission with a God who is on mission himself.

One friend, who by all worldly standards should be pursuing career, money, and squeezing every drop out of his twenties for parties and women, has given himself to the call of Christ in radical ways. Conway Robinson, a man to whom I respect and admire, has dedicated himself to working in Costa Rica in various cities, partnering with New Life Church of Los Guido. He is currently spending three months doing hard manual labor and building relationships with many young people through various service-oriented ministries. He has shown me, through example, what ministry means. Being a missionary, in whichever context we are in or called to, is rolling up your sleeves and serving. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and generally meeting practical needs all in the name of Christ as we build relationships and disciple.

Check out this video from last years work in Costa Rica

In the coming months, I will be posting updates and a few interviews with this missionary, learning more about his specific tasks and areas we can be holding him and those he is serving up in prayer.

Until then, check out his blog where he updates all that is going on in Los Guido.


What sort of methods have you used to preach gospel, good or bad?

In your specific context, how are you able to serve and disciple?


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  • Anonymous

    Great article. I have always found that my life is my mission. Every day, I am on a mission. My mission whether I choose to accept it or not is to bring Him glory in all that I do, in the hopes that it may plant seeds in others and that one day those around me will seek the light I am supposed to radiate from within, so that in the end, they may seek Him. I’m  not one to pull the “Do you know Jesus” card. I hardly push my religion on people. Instead I live to be different and because of that difference that’s what makes others come to me and ask. “what’s different?”. It is then I know, God has opened the door. I personally never worked well with people pushing Jesus on me, telling me Jesus loves me therefore I should follow Him. I was always more influenced of watching their actions: did their talk match their walk? And that is my mission. I work in a dark place. No one there believes in Christ. Everyone hates the church because sadly they think the church hates them and they see the church as nothing but a bunch of hypocrites. I am there to show love, to show His love. I am also there to prove the stereotype wrong. By being different but still being okay to mingle with those who are different than me, it makes them a little more open to me. And the more I can open their hearts to trust that I’m not there to pass judgment and condemnation, I pray God will use that space and flood into their hearts. So yes, if we choose to accept Christian as our title, then everyday is a missionary trip. I like how you said it: Christians are missionaries. May we all be successful in our mission as we draw strength, wisdom, and courage through Him. And p.s. GO CONWAY! :)

  • I’ve been struggling lately to merely just talk about Christ in normal conversation. Even at church I struggle. People are not keen to speak about a sermon or churchy experience very easily for some reason…. Sometimes ill be bold enough to be like, ‘oh by the way… Jesus!!’ But that often gets shrugged off because I don’t always have the right conversation matter. Especially for those ‘lukewarm’ friends who say they’re Christian but still I wonder why they don’t boldly live out Jesus.

    Furthermore I struggle to bring Christ into daily conversation with friends who are believers. Is there a ‘right’ kind of conversation to have with believers or is it still okay to converse about opinions on secular films or how to survive a zombie apocalypse? 

  • I personally think that Christ should permeate all things and in all conversations. While we may not be talking about him directly, our love and Christian ethic is in every action and every word. But we should WANT to talk about Christ all the time. We should WANT to have Bible studies, pray, and ask what God is speaking to each of us throughout the week. If your friends aren’t doing that, then perhaps it is time that you start it. Invite them to watch a flick and talk about the theological and philosophical ideas and how it relates to the truth of the scripture and person of Christ. It could be anything, but we should never “fear.” Fear comes from the demonic and our own sinful and arrogant hearts.  

  • Awesome! Thanks so much for sharing! It is true. We struggle against a really bad rep not only built from the last few generations but also thousands of years of people not adequately representing the light that is Christ. Our love should bring us to every dark corner of the earth and in every place. No job or location is too dark or evil for the light and love of Christ! 

  • Hagerjames

    Just an observation: several years ago, had a guest speaker
     at a Sunday school class. He and his wife had been missionaries to Indonesia for 25 years and were returning there after having some medical work done. He mentioned he would get upset and insulted when people said they were missionaries in the local neighborhood. He had given up all the luxury of this country, lived among foreign people who had a much lower standard of living, studied to learn their language, lived amongst people some of whom violently oppose Christianity, etc. He was of the very strong opinion that Christians who don’t leave are commanded to be witnesses, not missionaries. He has a point.

  • The distinction between “witness” and “missionary” is a word game probably more played by more traditional communities a generation of two ago. The reality is, when we cut past the vocabulary, all Christians are called to the SAME THING. The great commission was not just for a few people. It is for all people. All when we go, some go far and some stay close. But all are charged with the same task: make disciples. And just as the ancient church had apostles to the Greeks, the Jews, and (according to history and tradition) to the middle east, China, and India, so should we. Some are local, some go out into the far reaches of the world. 

    Not all of us will have to sacrifice the same or in the same ways, but that does not mean one is following a “higher” calling. In my view, a witness and a missionary are the exact same thing and should be doing the same thing—making disciples. 

  • Jim Hager

    I don’t think it’s a word game.  Although the primary mission is the same, make disciples, the words have different connotations. When I hear the word ‘missionary”, I think of someone going to a foreign culture. (In today’s world, the foreign culture may be in the same country – the USA has many different cultures within its’ borders.)  The Great Commission is the same – how it is carried out is different. Some are missionaries, all are to witness.  

    And there is no “higher calling”. Since God does the calling, all are to be obedient to Him.  I do believe, however, that those who go to foreign cultures are deserving of our great respect. 

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