We all are damaged but loved, crushed but cherished, with a divine embrace. When love is the motivation for evangelism, nudging is love in action. And the cracks in our broken vases are where Jesus leaks out first.
I define evangelism as “nudge” and evangelists as “nudgers.” Evangelism is awakening each other to the God who is already there. Evangelism is nudging people to pay attention to the mission of God in their lives and to the necessity of responding to that initiative in ways that birth new realities and the new birth.
Every person who crosses your threshold today is ripe for nudging. A nudge happens in proximity. Even the nudges across the Internet or by phone take place in a proximity of relationships. The integrity of a nudge requires that it be welcomed and that it be reciprocal. The purpose of a nudge is to manifest Christ in a moment of mutual knowing, which benefits both the person being nudged and the nudger. Nudging is not best driven by fear or by some need within the nudger. Nudges are not contrived but are the natural consequence of being with someone in a moment and wishing them to join you in recognizing a God-moment. The best nudges culminate in a grunt of mutual recognition. God nudges me because God likes me. I nudge others because I like them. There is an implied caring that comes with nudging.
This is exactly the opposite of ignoring the need for a decision. Rather, it is respecting and reverencing the process, if one looks back on it, by which each of us came to that place of decision. When an impression leads to a decision, it’s “Hallelujah!” (or in my preferred way of stating it, “Javalujah!”) time. But the ultimate answer to that question “Who do you say that I am?” is best forthcoming from another question: “What’s up?” Or when translated theologically, “What’s the I AM up to in your life?” We find the living One in the midst of living.
LEONARD SWEET is the E. Stanley Jones professor of Evangelism at Drew University and the author of Nudge: Awakening Each Other to the God Who’s Already There
2. The phrase is that of St. France de Sales, picked up from Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:19 (“For the Son of God, Jesus Christ . . . it has always been ‘Yes’”) and made into a slogan.
3. Andy Grundberg, “Beyond Itself,” in After Art: Rethinking 150 Years of Photography: Selections from the Joseph and Elaine Monsen Collection (Seattle: Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, 1994), 17.
4. Quoted in Charles Glass, “The Universal Instant,” TLS: Times Literary Supplement, 03 March 1995, 7.