Last week I drove up to Fort Collins to have breakfast with long-time friend Keith Davy. For the past twelve years or so Keith has been the thought leader for increasing effective evangelism for Cru. I always love being with Keith; not just for his fresh ideas and perspective but also because of his positive, engaging spirit and faith. After catching up on family we talked about effective evangelism. Keith was quite encouraged. Back in the 1990’s Cru faced the brutal reality that NONE of the 250+ new staff who were linking arms with Cru were won to Christ through Cru. That was a severe wake-up call. Today things have greatly improved. Keith is a not just a thought-leading practitioner but also a careful researcher. Today 33% of Cru’s new staff came to Christ through Cru.
Over the years Keith has developed a helpful construct that defines three “modes” of evangelism—the body mode, the natural mode, and the ministry mode. Keith’s research showed that of the students who trusted Christ, 50% came to Christ through the body mode. Someone invited them to a large gathering of Cru students and responded to an invitation to give their lives to Christ. 25% of believers came to Christ through the natural mode—a friend shared the gospel and they came to faith. The other 25% came to Christ through an outreach event…the ministry mode.
Keith is now working on increasing the effectiveness of the natural mode—friend-to-friend evangelism. Referring to the annual UCLA freshman study, 80% of incoming Freshmen consider themselves to be on a spiritual journey. 75% of freshmen want to have conversations about “the meaning of life” with their classmates. So having a spiritual conversation is within the flow of what students want to do. Keith and his team found the Heath brother’s book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, to be very helpful as they thought through how the nine principles of Switch could be applied to evangelism. Keith talked about what it meant to “script the critical move” in relational evangelism. The critical move was simply asking a friend a question something like this: “As long as we’ve known each other I’ve never heard your spiritual journey. At some time…” (Keith calls this their “At some time” strategy). That one question sets in motion the following dominoes: Of five friends they ask the question to in the course of a month:
- Four will result in a spiritual conversation
- Three will result in a gospel conversation
- 12-15% of those will indicate a decision to receive Christ
With 75,000 students involved in Cru, an intentional relational strategy like this could result in thousands of students coming to faith. In your faith community do you know what the “critical move” is that starts a spiritual snowball rolling down hill. It’s certainly worth thinking about.
In 2014, Brent Dolfo and I will launch an Innovation Community called New Evangelistic Paradigms Innovation Community (NEPIC). To learn what’s happening out there, Keith and I will be having several conversations around effective evangelism. Is your church engaged in effective evangelism or do you know of a church that is? Brent and I would love to talk to them. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll set up a time on the phone.