Reconnect Episode 6: Contradict – Campus Evangelism

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Andy Wrasman, George Allen III, and Adam Stetson discuss how they came to use a Contradict poster for evangelism at University California Irvine.  What were their previous evangelism efforts?  Why did they decide the Contradict evangelism table method was their favorite? How do they use the poster to spring into sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ? What tips do they have to share from their outings?  What are their most memorable encounters and relationships formed via their Contradict outings?  What do they appreciate the most about each others’ personality and approach to sharing the Gospel?  Answering all of these questions, they hope to inspire and encourage you to consider a similar approach to sharing the Gospel in public spaces.

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Contradict evangelism table at Saddleback Community College.
Contradict evangelism table at Saddleback Community College.

Why is Contradict a movement?

Dan Palmere at FSU
Dan Palmere at Florida State University, sharing the Gospel using a Contradict poster. He is a member of the campus’ Ratio Christi club.

When I decided to begin sharing Contradict with a broader audience than tabletop evangelism, I chose to start a Web site with the name Contradict Movement. Calling trends, fads, and new tendencies “movements” seems to be a popular development of its own lately. I think that what I’d like to see happen is for Contradict to spread, classifying as a movement in the tradition sense of organizing and rallying the troops behind a cause of action or expression. In a way I was jumping on the movement-branding bandwagon, but I have a dual meaning in mind.

I intend the term Contradict Movement to refer to the movement of the Holy Spirit as he leads Christians to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Jesus indicates this unpredictable movement of the Holy Spirit in his often-quoted discourse to Nicodemus in John chapter 3, saying, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (verse 8).

With this in mind, each Christian reading this book will likely be prompted to share the gospel with others in ways that I haven’t yet perceived. Maybe some readers will be moved to step directly into the manner in which I have shared Contradict, using a poster at a college campus. The objective of the Contradict Movement is to counter the spirit of this age that all religions are equally valid and true, that all roads and paths lead to God.

It is more specific than this, however. A conservative Muslim could easily stand alongside a conservative Christian and boldly proclaim, “We worship a different God.” Grounded in the Christian worldview, my goal is to move people not only to see that all religions can’t be true, but to point them to Jesus Christ as mankind’s one and only, all-sufficient Savior. Then I want to prayerfully and winsomely reason with them in the various marketplaces of life to which God has called each Christian to serve and be his witnesses.

To participate in this movement, a person is not required to use the Contradict logo I have made. Many people are likely participating in this movement already without having seen Contradict; in fact I think this movement goes all the way back to the beginning of humanity. God’s people have always stood in opposition to the patterns of this world which lure us to exchange the truth of God for a lie, enticing us to bow down to the things of God’s creation rather than worship and praise the Creator.

It is not surprising that the lies of pluralism have infiltrated the ranks of the visible church. Jesus indicated that this would happen with his parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matthew 13:24–30). Lies, the Enemy, and people who claim to be followers of Christ but are not will spring up within Christ’s church (Matthew 13:36–43).

You can see Satan’s sowing of lies within the church in the way that a large percentage of Christians in America have embraced certain New Age elements within their Christian beliefs and practices. With the lie swallowed and craved by society and even within the church, taking a stance in our pluralistic age will receive harsh criticism. This is what Jesus promised would happen. He said, “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13).

Everyone in the church won’t stand firm. Jesus promised this too. He said that when persecution comes, “many will turn away from the faith and will betray many people” (Matthew 24:10). This is why those of us who are standing upon Christ, pointing to Jesus as the only way to salvation, must band together, meet with one another, and encourage each other as we see the signs of the day of the Lord approaching (Hebrews 10:25).

Click this image to get 25% of my book, Contradict - They Can't All Be True, for Free!
Click this image to get 25% of my book, Contradict – They Can’t All Be True, for Free!

Contradict Evangelism Table

table evangelismAs many of you know if you have followed my blog, the Contradict logo was birthed from evangelism at University of California Irvine.  From many trial and error attempts at initiating Christ-centered conversations on the campus, I found that the best method for my personality is to set-up a table and draw people in to talk with a catchy poster on a table.  My first attempt was a Led Zeppelin poster with a sign saying free bootleg CDs.  I actually had purchased some bootleg CDs and was raffling them off, but, to enter the raffle the person had to take my “Stairway to Heaven” Gospel tract that I had written.  They also got an invitation to a Bible study on UCI’s campus.  I got a few emails this way so I could keep in contact – spamming people, if you will, about events I was hosting on campus.  I never got anyone to show to those events – :(.

Then I met a lady that was a full-time missionary at University California Los Angeles.  She told me what worked best for her was hosting a “Blessing of the Brains” night every mid-term and finals week.  She said students were up late studying and that she would offer them coffee and the opportunity to have their brains blessed with prayer!  She would pray for them right then and there if they wanted, or just collect prayer requests in a prayer box.  I did that method twice!  Both times – very successful.

All of these attempts were when I was as an undergraduate student at Concordia University Irvine during the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 school years.  After a Masters degree and three years teaching in China, I was back in Orange County in the summer of 2009 and asked if I would kickstart evangelism for a congregation at UCI.  I wanted to set-up another table with a poster that would draw people in to talk and I wanted to also offer coffee.  Sort of a combination of the two best options I had done before.  I had many other attempts along the way that I won’t mention.  From UCLA pastor, Mark Jasa, I learned of a cool sign approach to evangelism. He set-up a table with a poster that read, “Religion is for the Weak.”  His approach was that people would see this and not know what he believed!  People usually think he is an atheist, and then get caught off guard and are intrigued to hear more when they find out he is actually a Christian.  He presents that everyone is going to die and religion offers a solution to the problem, yet there are really only two religions – Free and Not Free.  Christianity is the only Free religion – saved by grace through faith in Christ.  Then the discussion begins!

Adam Stetson also saw a presentation from Pastor Jasa on his “Religion is for the Weak” method of starting an evangelism conversation. Together we bought a table and went to UCI’s Freedom of Speech Area.  We started with small print-out pages that said “Religion is for the Weak” and other slogans we came up with. The only one I still remember is the one that I made up which was “Christianity is not a way of life.”  If someone asked what it meant I’d share, “Christianity is life given to you for free by the work of Jesus.  It’s not a list of rules you must obey to be saved.  Therefore it is not a way of life, it is life.”  We also had a big poster board that said, “Got Prayer?”  We did a lot of stuff like that.  It was a smorgasbord of little flyers taped to everything on the table.  People would get coffee and as they shook their sugar into their cup, they’d ask what the message meant on the sugar container.  It was quite comical.

One week, Adam said, he wanted to make a Contradict sign to counter Co-exist.  I thought it was great!  I found a few designs already made online and we started to use them on the table too.  It became my go to every time someone asked why were out there giving out free coffee.  Adam and the others with us began to always gravitate towards it too.  Eventually Adam had a Contradict poster made!  And then we ditched everything else and just used a Contradict poster exclusively, taped to the front of the table.  “Religion is for the Weak” didn’t work so great for me for some reason.  Before launching the site, I designed my own Contradict logo with my friend Danny Martinez.

I love the Contradict conversation starter.  It’s simple.  Someone asks what does this mean and I get to simply say, “It means that all religions contradict each other and they can’t all be true.  They could all be false, but they can’t all be true.  I personally believe Christianity is true, that Jesus is God and died for your sins and I am here to share that good news and answer any of your questions about what I believe from the Bible.”  I have presented the central truth-claim of Christianity, and now the ball is in that person’s court!  Often times, they might be shocked that I am Christian. For example, I once let an atheist talk a long time about his views on religion.  He thought I was an atheist too, so he was just laying it really thick against all religions and religious people, and when I told him what I believed he was stunned.  And his mouth was open, and he asked, “Wait, you’re a Christian?”  He thought by Contradict, I somehow meant they were all wrong!  No.  It means they can’t all be true, not that they’re all wrong – which is what many people first think the sign means.

Anyways, it’s a great conversation starter!  I encourage you to give it a try somewhere, at a park, a campus, a store front, a fair, a street corner with a lot of foot traffic.  There are handouts at that you can download and print for free.

If you are really into this idea, I encourage you to check out my book, Contradict – They Can’t All Be True.  It details the entire message I’d share with someone if they gave me 3-4 hours of their time.  And believe it or not, sometimes, people actually give that much time!  Many people I have talked to are very intrigued.  They are craving God (although they don’t know that’s what they’re missing and needing as they are lost in their sins) and few Christians have given them the straight up truth from Scripture.  And few Christians have sat there to listen to their questions and answer them.  A big portion of my book is to help equip you to know what questions are most often asked from the Contradict conversation starter.

Here’s a video for more info on how to get started. God bless you.

Please, let me know if you give this a try.  And you might find that something else besides Contradict works best for you.