We were newly married. Katrina, my wife just started work at a bank in Winnipeg where she began connecting with a nice lady from work. It was a pretty important thing as Katrina was nervous about starting a new job and making a friend was a great way to feel comfortable.
One night we got a frantic phone call insisting that we come join her and her friends for some dinner and good ol’ fashion hang-out time. It was frantic to the point that it made us a bit nervous. No reason for the call, other than to just come hang out. But the intensity level of her request made us question quite persistently during the 10 minute drive to their place about what the heck this whole thing was about.
We pulled up, anxiously knocked on the door and were greeted by Katrina’s co-worker along with her boyfriend. We heard laughter and conversation in the background and that gave us both a sense of relief. That relief was quickly violated upon entry into the living room when the conversations stopped, and everyone, EVERYONE turned their heads to look at us with a strange smile similar to that of the Stepford Wives. There were about 9-10 people on couches and love seats all dressed in business attire. As they looked at us, I felt judged as we were in our blue jeans and hoodies and felt as if Katrina and I both had a bullseye on our heads. That wasn’t the worst part.
As I continued my brief survey of the living room while everyone was looking at us… smiling, in the corner I saw a while board and two fold up chairs. I knew instantly that those chairs were for us, and either we were going to be playing an intense game of charades with Stepford Wife people in business attire, or we were in for some sort of pitch. Our hosts ever so hospitably invited us to sit on the most uncomfortable chairs in the room and began the awkward small talk. The kind that happens when you run into old high school classmates that you didn’t really know but feel compelled to talk to because they saw you.
Once we moved past the small talk our hosts brought out some materials for us to look at, again, the stepford wife people looking at us while we were flipping through, and began talking about this business that they had. For the next 45 minutes we heard about how awesome this business thing they had was and that we should consider joining their little thing-a-ma-jig. To be honest I can’t even remember what it was. At the end they wanted to know if we had any questions, we didn’t, made an excuse to leave and left that Titanic of awkwardness as soon as possible. All I remember is holding Katrina’s hand as we ran laughing our butts off about what just happened and reflecting on the way home wish that we weren’t such nice people while being thankful that it wasn’t a sex toy party.
It doesn’t just happen with lame business attempts like this that put Katrina and I in an awkward position. It happens in evangelistic endeavours for Jesus as well. Many people have stories about people trying to ‘get them’ into being a Christian. Unfortunately Jesus isn’t a product to be sold, or a thing to sucker people into joining. It violently misses the point of what Jesus is all about. Evangelism is a thick theological debate in many denominations, and I don’t completely get it, but I do know that it isn’t about ‘getting people’ into being a Christian. If Jesus was all about relationship, let us think of evangelism as an invitation into a divine relationship.