Lawn Chair Catechism: Presence Evangelism


The question I am supposed to answer is all about trust and evangelism, how someone was a link for me and if I have been a bridge for another person. I do answer the last question at the end of this article but I felt compelled to look at the three types of evangelism that we have experienced in the last 40 years. I fell this discussion will prove interesting


Evangelism has gone through many stages to reach the place we are today.Up until the late 60’s, evangelists were mainly preachers of the Word. In the Protestant camp, Billy Graham shone the brightest while for Catholics,the first name that pops into my head as an example is Bishop Fulton Sheen’s radio program.These men focused on an evangelism of the word, a preached sermon or talk with the purpose of convincing people to repent, change and commit their lives to God.


The primary way the Holy Spirit touched people in large crowds in the 70’s, 80′ and 90’s was through power evangelism. Rather than preaching long sermons, the evangelists who drew the largest crowds were prophets and healers. The Spirit fell in a tangible way.This was not restricted to the Protestants. The Catholics experienced their own Charismatic Renewal with crowds of 30,000 gathering in Rome in the mid 70’s. I remember one Catholic Charismatic Conference in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where 10,000 people sang gently, harmoniously in tongues like angels and I am sure with angels. Organizers allowed the Holy Spirit to move gently among the crowd, healing physically and emotionally.

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Now the Spirit of God is moving among the grassroots. It is the time for the little people to shine.  God is choosing humble, ordinary people who have suffered and lived obscure lives faithful to Him and allowed Him to purify and mold them into His presence. Such men and women attract others who are hungry for God because people sense the love and power of God.

For example, I was stranded for 10 hours in an airport, 3 years ago with an East-German archaeologist. He spoke of his work and I shared funny stories about living with nine kids. I did not preach. Suddenly he asked,

“What is it about you? You are the most powerful person I have ever met.”

He shocked me. Sure I felt God and His joy was bubbling up within me but I had not prayed for or healed this man. I simply made him laugh. However we were both aware of a power flowing around us. It was tangible. This is presence evangelism.He does all the work. We simply relax and watch.

It is also exciting to be part of another type of New Evangelism,the internet. It is the best way to catch the attention of the unchurched, people questioning their faith or looking to grow in their faith. I can add one more voice to the noisy clamour of secularists on the web.

14 thoughts on “Lawn Chair Catechism: Presence Evangelism

  1. Melanie, I experienced all the three waves of evangelization. I really like you description of the New Evangelization as “presence evangelization.” The first two waves, the powerful evangelist who inspired us and the charismatic conferences that begin to heal and transform us, lead us to this one-on-one presence evangelization. The Forming Intentional Disciples program we are reading together needs evangelists who are being healed and transformed through whatever means God uses. Our challenge is to write under the wing of the Holy Spirit so we can convey his presence over the Internet.


  2. We are the blessed who have been invited to spread His Word to the uttermost parts of the earth. I’m deeply honored to be called to join your ranks and “add one more voice to the noisy clamour of secularists on the web.”

    Great post!


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