Right now I’m typing these words from Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. I’m still recovering from the late night party in Sin City. Zane, myself and Media Tech’s film crew were out to almost 2 in the morning filming a segment for the conference called “Shreddin’ the Gnar in Vegas.” Basically Zane and I went witnessing on the strip for several hours at night and got it all on film. To be honest we didn’t know what to expect but because we had lights, a microphone and a big professional looking camera we definitely got people’s attention. Some of these people were willing to stop and talk. Others were willing to walk by and shout “woooo!” into the camera. I also learned a few new words during our late night evangelism escapade.
Speaking of new words you may be wondering what shreddin’ the gnar means? It’s a surfing term that means absolutely nothing and absolutely everything. It means to attack the biggest waves with even bigger attitude. Applying this idea to evangelism it means having those difficult conversations with people no matter how weird the situation or awkward it may feel. It means more than just spewing the gospel on someone. It means having a real conversation with them about Christ.
Zane taught me this term when we were filming The GOSPEL Journey Maui Reality Series in Hawaii. So we decided to try to do some shreddin in Vegas so that the teenagers who come to Dare 2 Share can know they can share their faith anytime and anywhere if they are willing to go for it. As they say “go big or go home.”
You would think that two dudes on the Strip in Vegas talking about Jesus would just be irritating. But you would be surprised at how many people were willing to talk. As a matter of fact some of them were downright open to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here’s the deal with the gospel that people often forget, it is so powerful that it can work inside and outside the context of relationship. But just because we had no previous relationship doesn’t mean that we have to share the gospel in a non relational way. As a matter of fact Zane is going to try to connect with one of the guys he witnessed to when he is in Austrailia this January. I am going to try to connect with two guys who trusted in Christ later on today with some follow up material.
Our goal should be to build new relationships with the people we share Jesus with, just like Paul did with the Thessalonian believers. Listen to the words he wrote to them after spending only three weeks with them in Thessalonica,
“As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12
The goal is to share the gospel relationally with everyone we can and share it relentlessly with everyone we know and love already. The more that we can do this the more the Spirit of God will use us to bring people into his kingdom, like he did in the late night hours with Zane and me in the blinking lights of Las Vegas.
I also was reminded that it may be impossible to share your faith and still be considered cool. Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
Zane is probably the coolest guy I know, a virtual Fonzie for a post modern generation of Christian teenagers. But when Zane shared the gospel it stripped away all the external codes for cool. From the time he mentioned the “J” word he was just another believer proclaiming the message of Christ.
I, on the other hand, have never been cool. I once preached a sermon with the price tag still hanging from my newly purchased suit. I have always been considered a court jester of sorts so becoming a fool for Christ was not a big leap. But for Zane it is a trip to the other side of the universe. Zane reeks of rock star. So it was awesome to watch Zane dive in, lose his “cool” and become a fool for Christ’s sake. That share-the-gospel willingness, not his clothes, hair or “hey dude” attitude is what makes him cool to me.
The act of evangelism is raw and elemental. It brings us all to a place of utter dependence on the Spirit of God. It keeps us from depending on our personality, powers of persuasion or sense of humor to instigate change in the hears of those we are sharing with. The act of evangelism reminds us all of who makes the waves we are surfing on when we shred the gnar.
Right now my head hurts. I’m tired and groggy and I’m pretty sure I’m getting a cold. Suffice it to say it was a killer party. But I’m surrounded with people who have a hangover for a whole different reason, people who are trying to find something missing in their lives by pulling a lever or pouring a cold one. Although I’m choking in the spiritual smog of Sin City my heart is filled with hope because I know that if Zane and I can share Jesus with complete strangers in what many consider the most wicked city in America then teenagers can shred the gnar with all their friends at school, on Facebook, on their sports teams and at their jobs. They can share it relationally because they already have a relationship with them. They can share it relentlessly because they care about them so much that they will never give up until their friends give in to Jesus. They can share it with humility because they still need Jesus every bit as much as their friends do.
Shred away my young friends. Shred away.