Five Love Languages and Evangelism
I have read interesting books about Servant Evangelism written by Steve Sjogren. He shared his ideas and experiences how to share God’s love in practical ways. Non-believers and un-churched people are sick and tired of empty words and rude and aggressive mental attacks of the enthusiastic evangelists. So pastor Sjogren adopts low risk, high grace evangelism doing many service projects in the community. For example, he and his church members clean the toilets of businesses in his community without getting any donation. They do it simply show God’s love in practical ways. They clean the window shields of cars and windows of businesses. They give away free soft drinks and water bottles. They wash cars absolutely free! In this way, he and his church members touch people’s heart and share the message, “God loves you!” in effective ways. As a by-product, his church grows into 6-7 thousands mega church in Cincinnati, Ohio.
When I read the books by pastor Sojgren, I remember the book by Dr. Gary Chapman. Dr. Chapman wrote a book, “Five Love Languages,” from his 30 years of marriage counseling. He has found out that people have different love languages. If we do not use the right language, it would be a foreign language spoken to our loved ones and they cannot get the message that we desperately want to share! If my wife has “service” as her love language, my gift of diamond ring would be just another non-sense to her. My wife would be mad and say to me, “Why did you spend our money in such foolish way!” However, if I wash dishes, she would say, “Oh, honey, thank you! You love me!” I do not have to spend a lot of money and still express my love! One of my friends has to buy roses, clothes, and diamond rings and necklaces for his wife to show his love!
I believe that Dr. Chapman’s insight should be applied to our evangelism also. Pastor Sjogren has successfully demonstrated that there are many people whose love languages are gifts and services! The love language is working not only among couples. It works in Evangelism as well as marketing and advertisement in business, I believe. Some people can feel that God loves them when the Christians give them bottles of water or soda cans (Gift). Some feel that God really loves them when Christians listen to their stories with empathy (Quality time). Some feel God’s love when Christians wash their cars without any strings attached! (Service) Some people open their hearts to God’s love when the Christians respect their culture and life style (Praise). Some people experience God’s love when Christians hold them, give them hug, massages them in a non-sexual way (Touch).
Pastor Sjogren does not use this framework of Love Language for his servant evangelism. He simply does what he believes as biblical. However, the reason why his servant evangelism works is this: He speaks the language of the people! Many times, we have been trained to share Good News through the Four Spiritual Laws. It was a modern approach. We tried to persuade people through arguments and debates. It could have been working for the rational and reason oriented people. However, for the post modern people, who value emotion and connection more, we need to learn how to speak connectional language. As a person who speaks English as my second language, I understand that subtle nuances make difference. Sometimes I evoke misunderstandings in people’s mind unnecessarily. I try to learn the culture and use expressions that the English speaking people use without asking the grammatical logic behind them. It works! So, let us be wise and current in our common efforts in sharing God’s love!