A Dessert Theatrical Approach to Relational Evangelism
By John Kurlinski, Bremerton Adventist Christian Church pastor
Bremerton Adventist Christian Church, located not far from navy shipyards in western Washington, wanted to create a safe place for church members to invite family, friends and neighbors. To do so, they developed a dessert theater, featuring Percival the Plague Angel, one of seven of the most misunderstood angels in heaven, who guided Bremerton listeners through the cosmic conflict of hardship and horror with a big picture perspective for hope and healing.
The unique and creative evangelism series guided participants through a narrative of the cosmic conflict, hosting between 45 and 55 people each Friday and Saturday night for four weeks.
The theme of the seminar, “The story no one told you…about you,” was strategized to use the power of narrative to connect with the everyday lives of people. People do not think in lists, but in stories and the telling of story taps into the listeners lives. Stories are more about relational realities than rules, they deal not only with the facts, but also the feelings that make up our everyday lives. As people listen to a story they hear it through the perspective of their personal story.
The narrative and theatrical styled evangelism series featured three characters: John, John’s guardian angel Matt, and Percival the Plague Angel. John and Matt began the series by retelling the story about when John lost his father and how it had impacted John’s life. The story about the tears that mark the most genuine moments, the highest highs (liquid praise) and the lowest lows (liquid prayers) in our lives. (For the biblical perspective on tears, see Psalm 39:12, 56:8; Matthew 23:37; John 11:35; and Revelation 21:4.)
Percival the Plague Angel guided participants through the cosmic conflict, beginning with the war in heaven, through creation, the fall, the flood, the story of Job and Jesus and explains the role tears have in defining our lives. Percival the Plague Angel invited participants to place their personal story in the greater story of God’s love for them.
“I like the point of view from an angel and what they may have observed. I liked the subjects and felt they were very understandable and realistic,” says one attendee. “The presentations inspired me to read my Bible, and dig deeper to help answer questions related to the condition of our world.”
Bremerton planned their evangelism series with the following structure:
Friday, Night 1: Guardian Angel Report
Participants were invited to explore how they fit into cosmic conflict and how they matter in the grand scheme.
Saturday, Night 2: The First Fall
A righteous angel guided participants through the timeline of when sin entered the cosmos and why God allowed it.
Friday, Night 3: The Second Fall
Participants explored humanity’s first big mistake and its lasting consequences.
Saturday, Night 4: Evil Floods the Earth
Participants learned about the first time evil overwhelmed the Earth and how God worked to save the only righteous man left.
Friday, Night 5: Tragedy Amidst Trust
Participants explored why bad things happen to good people though the story of Job.
Saturday, Night 6: Evil Takes on Innocence
Participants were guided through the story of Jesus, and how His death changed the course of human-kind.
Friday, Night 7: The Final Stand
Participants were guided through the events of the final battle, when Lucifer is permitted total control of Earth and how God will rescue His people.
Saturday, Night 8: The Rest and Last of the Story
Percival the Plague Angel reveals God’s bride and invites participants to the wedding feast.
After each night, participants were invited to answer thought provoking questions about what they had heard, opening the door to share their personal stories around the table. The most effective part of the dessert theater was the “fellowship evangelism” that took place around the table among trusted friends. Members, who may be afraid of giving a study, had an opportunity to listen and share their stories of how Jesus cared for them through some of life’s most trying moments.
“The group discussions after each presentation were inspiring and I feel the responsibility and urgency to pray and work with God in doing His will,” says one member, who invited coworkers to the meetings. “I have seen God work and know that Christ is coming soon. The meetings have been confirmation of this.”
When the evangelism series concluded, Bremerton Church invited participants to join a more in-depth study of the cosmic conflict from the perspective of the book of Revelation the first Friday following the dessert theater.
We are grateful to God, praying and anticipating that several people will be joining our body during the coming weeks and months through the connections made at the dessert theater. One person came to the decision of being baptized, another has decided to be rebaptized and four have joined a follow-up Bible study group.