Recently Seth Godin penned a post, Girl Scout Cookies, which implored parents NOT to sell on behalf of their kids. More than earning money for this program or that, the Scouts are teaching its members to be confident adept sellers—an experience and skillset adults would do well not to rob them of.
There are two types of pitches these bite-sized solicitors can employ—either the rigorous sales pitch they are trained to memorize, or one key question:
“What’s your favorite kind of Girl Scout® cookie?”
The situational dynamics created by the two different presentations could not be more diametrically opposed. The spiel is easy to say “no” to, walk away from, or ignore. But by asking the cookie question, solicitors have immediately kicked open the door to a sentimental, emotion-filled, easy-to-have conversation where “no” has been gracefully and intentionally pre-removed from your arsenal of responses.
It got me thinking about how we are training young evangelists around the world to share the Gospel. Granted, it’s a bit of a Tagalongs® to Thin Mints® comparison, as we aren’t training the next generation of the Church to “sell” anything.
As a matter of fact, a large portion of OneHope’s 90 million+ reach this year will happen through peer-to-peer evangelism. With research showing that as many as 86% of all Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists do not personally know a Christian, the door to relational evangelism around the world is wide open!
We need to be intentional in how we train children to share their faith:
1. Teach our kids to ask the right questions. The Christian Church has grown around the world ; could it be that we have figured out how to ask the right questions that open the door to heartfelt conversations? Everyone has a need; most could use a miracle. So, “what do you need?” and “how can I pray for you?” apply no matter the context.
2. Understand your faith. In a multi-cultural, post-Christian world, it is increasingly necessary to be able to filter out the noise and be solid in what you believe. “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Peter 3:15.
3. Teach the next generation that if they want others to listen to them, they must approach conversations with gentleness and respect. When you open up a conversation (see #1) it is important that you apply the acute skill of listening. Not just politely waiting until you can start aggressively proselytizing, but really listening for the heartfelt need, and knowing where to apply the Gospel in each unique situation.
4. Teach evangelism in the context of community. If believers in the local Church are equipped to meet the needs of their community, and children are believers, then it follows that they, as members of the Church can reach out to their community too. That’s the long way of saying, “If adults can do it, kids can do it too.”
In the same way that Godin advocates parents stepping back and allowing their Scouts to confidently execute a transaction selling cookies, the Church ought to, and should, train and encourage its young people to confidently open the door to sharing the Gospel.
That being said, Thin Mints® are my favorite, but more importantly I would love to know how can I pray for you today?
You might also enjoy reading:
- Evangelism: Biblical rules of engagement
- The fierce urgency of NOW!
- A Christian Theology of Children
- Millennials and faith
- The Secret to balancing family AND ministry