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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The Good News! » » Magic as a Tool to Witness (8 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Allan Olive
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Hi guys,

Does anyone here use magic as a tool to witness to someone? And if so, what do you do and how do you present it?

Most of us will admit that the hardest part of witnessing is getting an open door. That is, getting someones attention long enough for a seed to be planted.

I came across an effect where you have the spectator think of something commonly found in a church. You then reveal what it is they were thinking of. Needless to say, this blows people away, and it gives you an open door to witness to them.

You end by saying, "This is only a trick, and I can't really read your mind, but you must admit that was kind of shocking there for a second to think that someone might be able to know what you were thinking about. But we serve a God who does know what we are thinking. He knows our darkest secrets, and the deepest desires of our hearts. And He loves you!

A lot of information has been left out in order to keep this post shorter. This should give you an idea of what I'm talking about.


- Allan
Ken
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I think this is the worst form of Gospel Magic. With "trick" being the key word. The magic is just a means to an end and because of that it is seen as being just a tool to get your point across rather than being a genuine expression of something much more significant.

It's like talking to some street evangelist who pretends to be listening and interested in what you are saying but all along they are just waiting for the opportunity to hit you over the head with their version of the truth. They cannot listen properly because they are already thinking about what to say next.

If magic has a place to play in enabling effective communication between people then I think we need to be careful about hidden agendas and realize that open and honest communication is what is needed. A cheap trick used as a cheap shot not only devalues magic but more importantly undermines what the Gospel is really about.

Best wishes
Ken
MANDRAGORE
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I totally agree with Ken, on that point. But I would do my so called tricks but never put a message on them or say anything about the Bible when I do them. If people challenge me for being Christian and doing magic tricks, well at that time I think I can talk about my faith and about what I believe. It can be as well an opportunity to tell that this is a gift from God and elaborate on your faith.

Ben
Allan Olive
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I see what you guys are saying, but needless to say, I disagree. I have never had anyone complain or object to this kind of presentation.

I see magic as a tool to get their attention. It tears right through walls and barriers that people instinctively put up around them, and gives you access to their heart to plant a seed.

Secondly, it doesn't matter if you're a street evangelist, pastor, or lay minister who is simply sharing their faith, you won't get anywhere if you are not genuinely interested and concerned in people. If you cannot connect with people you won't get anywhere with them. If you are waiting for a minute to just pitch them your line, you will fail.

Magic is a tool to make a connection with people. Why not use that connection, opportunity to share your faith?
craig fothers
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I think the real danger is that it would be easy for me, or the magic that I do to become the focus of what I'm speaking about, rather than Christ... and that would be a shame indeed.

When speaking to people about becoming a Christian, there are lots of analogies and ways of explaining the gospel - even tracts use these kind of analogies.
When I'm speaking to kids, I try to use magic to punctuate what I'm saying, without making it the focus - this is perhaps easier when I'm up in the front teaching Sunday school... but I'm sure the concept is still the same.

In the end, I want people to be amazed by God's good grace, and not Craig's magic...
:)
Scott F. Guinn
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I have to agree. I think we need to earn the right to be heard. Just as Jesus first showed His compassion for people by meeting their physical needs (food, healing, etc), I think we need to show that we care about people on a basic, practical and physical level before we approach them with the gospel (assuming they didn't ask, of course!).

I use Gospel magic for those who are already converted or for special outreach programs by churches and Christian organizations, but it seems to me to be almost deceptive in a general secular environment to show someone I've just met a magic trick and then hit them between the eyes with the gospel.

It's like the people who try to get you into the Multi-Level marketing things, but they won't TELL you that's what it is until you get there and you're expecting something entirely different, and then they hit you with it--they "trick" you into it. This really ticks me off, because they weren't up front about it. The REASON they weren't is because they knew I would most likely say I wasn't interested. I'd just hate for people to view the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the same way that I view Amway and Nikken! (No offense to those of you who represent these companies in an HONEST manner!)
"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
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Allan Olive
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To craig I would say, if you show them an effect that is truly amazing, and finish by telling of a God who is even more amazing.

And thanks Scott for your reply, but if the effect you are presenting is one with a Gospel theme, then what is it you are hiding? Aren't you being up front from the start if what you are presenting has a gospel message to it?

Sorry Craig, I just noticed that my sentence to you was not a complete one. Forgive me. I meant to say, If you show them an effect that is truly amazing, and finish by telling of a God who is even more amazing, doesn't that take the focus off of the magic you have done and put it back onto God?

Thanks for the response by the way. Your inputs and thoughts are appreciated.

-Allan
craig fothers
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Allan, I'm just saying that the danger is there, and is, I believe a real one -

Whether you are someone giving a talk and are very clever with magic, or a minister who is very clever with words - it would be a shame if something you believed strongly, and were taking pains to explain was undermined wouldn't it? I'm not pointing the finger at 'magic' as such, I'm just acknowledging it as a danger. I mean, we're human and we get things wrong.

Having said that, I think that magic really is a great vehicle for getting people's attention - and explaining some hard to explain things... Smile
Allan Olive
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Well said Craig. Smile
Matt
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When I recently saw Andre Kohl perform, he warned people way ahead of time that there was some preaching coming up, and folks weren't up for that they might want to leave during the intermission. Of course after the preaching he did the statue of liberty vanish, but everyone knew what to expect.

Also on this topic. The effects he did while preaching, were really not that astonishing, but served the purpose of illustrating his point. One penetration and a disappearing light bulb. I imagine this was on purpose, to keep the focus on what he was saying.

Matt
(enjoying a President's Day off) Smile Smile
Geoff Williams
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I tend to keep my gospel presentations limited to outreach programs and events that are usually held in a church building (but not always).

Like Andre Kole, I have no intention of offending anyone (read: forcing the gospel on anyone who objects to hearing it). In an outreach situation, where people have brought others to be entertained in a Christian atmosphere, there is little chance of shocking anybody (and thereby making them even LESS receptive to the good news).
"Saját légpárnás tele van angolnák."

(Hungarian for "My hovercraft is full of eels")
Allan Olive
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I hope everyone understands that I am not talking about giving people a hard core presentation of the gospel whether they like it or not. I am simple talking about planting a small seed. Just giving them something to think about. It stops right there, unless you have captured their interest and they want to find out more.
BroDavid
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There are a number of great comments here, while I don't have anything better to say,
I just may have something different to say. Smile

I fully agree with Allan about using magic as just another way to break the ice and evangelize. We use music, we use sports, we use a meal, and the Jesus Film. Why not magic?

However, I also agree with Ken, in that we can't appear to be charletons of the faith, somehow tricking someone into whatever....

Having said that, I don't think the second viewpoints is a logical result of the first.

Scott's first paragraph where he said that we need to earn the right to be heard, and that Jesus first met their physical needs was right on. That is exactly right, and that is exactly what I think is happening, is being done when we use an illusion, or music, or a smile to engage them and relate to them.

It is one thing to have a long term relationship where you can work over time at friendship evangelism.

But to say that when I go into the midst of a bar-hopping group of kids on the street, and start shooting fire into the air, etc, and they start gathering around to see more, that I am deceiving them, because at some point, I will talk about God, and Salvation is just not right.

I do not trick people into watching me perform or listening to me. I don't trick them any more than you trick an unsaved neighbor when you ask him to go with you and some other saved buddies to a ball game. Don't you intend to - at some point - witness to him??

And if you do intend to do that; (and many do, I know I have seen it - and I have done it!) then it isn't a question of whether it is right to do it. It is a question of when it is right and how it should be done.

I have never; held someone down and beat them with the Bible until they repented. (although I have been tempted to do so in a few cases...) And I have never tricked someone into watching me do an effect. I certainly hope that I entertain them as I show them (in a c6 card packet effect) what it means to have a relationship with God thru Jesus Christ. I even ask; "Would you like to see what could happen if you were a Christian" and most say Yes! Some don't say anything and watch, and a very few say, I am not interested...

I do a lot of magic without a message to gain quick credibility as someone who can have fun, and does fun things, and sometimes is actually funny, and who seems to care about them.

And make no mistake about that. I care about them. If I didn't care, I would not spend the time, or go some of the places I go. But God cares for them. And so do I. I do listen to what they say. In less time than it takes a lot of you to take out the trash, I make contact and establish a relationship, because of the illusion and effects, and I tell them about eternally important things.

If I thought that someone else was doing this, I wouldn't bother. But there dosen't seem to be many. So I care enough to take whatever portion of the moment of encounter that I can, under the leading of the Holy Spirit, to get their attention and to tell them; as Steve Brown from Key Life Ministries says; "I am just one beggar who cares enough to tell other beggars where I found food."

It isn't for everyone. And someone needs to perform for the believers as many of you do so well. But someone also needs to reach out to the unbelievers - where they are - and in a way that lets you entertain and enlighten.
Sports, music, drama, food, entertainment, astonishment, illuson. What is the difference?

Just because the approach is unconventional, doesn't mean that it dishonors God. And that is the challenge, to be sure that in all things it DOES Honor God!

BroDavid
If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.
Allan Olive
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Just because the approach is unconventional, doesn't mean that it dishonors God. And that is the challenge, to be sure that in all things it DOES Honor God!

Thanks for the great comments BroDavid.

One thing I love about magic, it is a great way to meet people. Magic is an amazing tool that allows you to really connect with people. Why not minister to someone if the opportunity presents itself?

- Allan
Steven the Amusing
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For witnessing to people whom I don't know well, I prefer to do an effect that has a "message" but not an obviously heavy handed one. An example is my effect "The Redeeming King" (I never tell people the title), I just do the effect. Those who KNOW the Gospel nod approvingly and understand the surprises. For those who don't I've created a door that they are free to open. Feel free to comment on my routine, see
http://steven.i.am/magic/redeemingking.html

The last line of the effect can be omitted or reworded as seems appropriate, e.g.
"Is there a King of your Heart?" or
"Who bails you out when you get in trouble?"
"Does any of this seem familiar to you?"
johncrosby
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Witnessing is a commandment from God and sometimes it takes something to help you open the door to speak with people. I feel doing a few illusions is fine.
Burt Yaroch
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If you approach someone under the pretense of showing them magic, all the while your intent is to witness to them, you are misrepresenting God and the Christian faith with a lie (yes a false pretense is a lie). Claiming you didn't ask for these people to watch you is completely irrelevant. Your intention is to lure them with your magic and then to witness. This is misrepresentation of the truth and a lie.

God will open the doors to mens hearts according to His will. He doesn't need any of us shoving our foot into these doors on His behalf.

Please take the time to sit down with a church pastor or other respected elder and learn how to properly witness to people. There is a right way and a wrong way. For example, the mention of "planting a small seed" has been referenced here more than once. This is only an effective tool if you then water that seed, make sure it recieves proper sunlight, and pull up the weeds from around it. You simply cannot plant a field of these seeds and expect any of them to grow.

Which is why the bait and switch method of witnessing is wrong. We wait to witness, not bait to witness. It is a very personal thing which God will share with us when He is ready.

Since I can already hear the protests ("I know how to witness. I’ve shown countless persons the way to Christ!") I thought I would share some words of wisdom (Not mine so it might be worth your effort to read them)

Ah yes. I can see the fire of Christ in your heart and I can feel your passion. But how many others have you turned away from Jesus with your methods. You probably would like to think none but you would most certainly be wrong. Please indulge me as I share how it is I am so certain.

You turned me from Christ.

Not you, but someone just like you with the same approach to witnessing. I was invited to what I perceived to be a dinner with friends. But these friends had other motives. I was a devout Catholic and was incensed at how I had Christ literally crammed down my throat. And for years after I ignored His calling. Those years are now lost to me, never to be recovered, never to be lived again with God’s grace in my heart all because of one misguided individual who thought he was doing Gods will.

And then I was finally saved. The passion of Christ’s flame burned in my breast. “All those years I didn’t hear his calling. So many opportunities I missed to help people.” So what did I do? This very same thing.

I invited people to dinner so I could witness. I showed them magic so I could witness. I went with them to bars so I could witness. I did everything possible except to shout from the rooftops. And did I help some find Christ? Yes. But for every one I helped I turned ten away. And I thought this was good. “If I can only help save one out of a hundred people, I have done God’s will.” How wrong I was.

My pastor got wind of my actions let me know the true way of things. (Paraphrasing his words, italics indicate words I can recall exactly. He was a very metaphorical and eloquent speaker. I’m sure I didn’t do his lesson justice here.) He began with,”I can see the fire of Christ in your heart. I can feel your passion brother, for I once let this fire rage in me too. But this is not God’s way. You are witnessing for you, not God.”

I was shocked and stunned. I could not believe what I was hearing.

“You are witnessing with the dagger of God’s word, hidden below your cloak. This is not His way. What this is is pride brother. It makes you feel better to be active, to be always doing. But it is not acceptable to help one fellow at the expense of harming another hundred with your dagger. And you may not always cut or frighten with your blade, but cut and frighten you will. You should witness with the candle of God’s light. Letting it shine in your example of His grace. Witness to one man, the man God puts you before, for this man is ready to hear His word. Only God can know this.”

He explained that witnessing is a passive calling, not an active one. It is God’s way, not the way of man. In His time he will call upon you. Be patient and mindful and listen. Waiting is more difficult than doing “but when has His way been the easy one?”

And His calling may not be this month, this year or even this decade. That is precisely why you must be ever vigilant. It is in His time, which is as infinite as His love.

So again, I know this to be true, as I turned some from Christ as well.

And if you still feel I am wrong or out of place and it is better for you to lure men to Christ then for Him to call upon them in His time (who’s running the show here again?) then you probably find these words as stinging as I did the words of my pastor, until I found them to be true. You are probably thinking right now, “How dare Yak tell me that my way is not Christ’s way. How dare he throw up his opinion in my face without my invitation.” You are probably annoyed or angered, certainly put off or perhaps insulted by me.

And therein lay my final proof to you. As this is precisely how those others feel as you clear space with your dagger in order to plant your seed.

God Bless.
Yakworld.
p.b.jones
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Hi,
I am just a little confussed as to what you mean by witness here. Do you mean preach?
To me, witness means that you verify that something occured. I personally do not believe in God, Christ and the like. But everyone to their own, My wife is Catholic and one of my friends is a Jehovahs Witness another is a white witch.
phillip
johncrosby
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Yak, I understand everything you are saying. It also helps that people know you are a Christian from the beginning, then you are not lying to them. I for one will wear something that will show this ahead of time before I just DROP the BOMB on them.

I love the way we can discuss these subjects and also the many views of others. This board ROCKS.

John
Burt Yaroch
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Phillip,
I think your definition is entirely accurate to the meaning the term has garnered in the Christian community. It is a verification of God which usually includes a very personal message about how God has touched you (me, the person witnessing). As you are relating this personal aspect of God, you have
"witnessed" his grace. I believe that is how the term came to be used.

---------------------------------------------

Quote:
On 2002-04-01 15:04, johncrosby wrote:
I for one will wear something that will show this ahead of time before I just DROP the BOMB on them.


Case in point. (Please don't take offense to this John, not a personal attack here as this thought is universal in this regard) Smile

Why is it we use this terminology, even though in jest, in reference to our witnessing? Is this a good thing, dropping a bomb? Who do we drop bombs on, our friends or enemies?

The colloquialism here implies springing some unexpected, often disturbing, news onto someone without warning. And we use this term in reference to our witnessing because we know that is EXACTLY what most of us do. Well if we percieve it that way, how do you think the folks you are witnessing to percieve it? Is getting a bomb dropped on them considered a gesture of love and fellowship or an attack?

God doesn't use heavy artillery to teach His grace. Neither should we.

I don't know why this isn't something Christians don't put more thought into. How many of you scoffed when I mentioned you learn how to properly witness? Truthfully. How many thought it is a relatively simple matter and you have a firm handle on it? If this is the case you have a huge problem.

The matter we are discussing here is salvation. Your part in anothers salvation. Does that help put it in perspective? And you must take ownership and responsibility for your actions in this immensely important matter.

If because of your actions you turn just ONE person away from Christ, because they weren't ready to hear Gods word but you shoved it in their face nontheless, you may have condemed that person for eternity. You, your actions. What do you imagine God will have to say about that?
The consequences of screwing this up should be downright terrifying to you. But they are almost never considered. Why not?

There should be schools and classes, one is required to attend before you can utter a single word about God to another person. The matter is too serious to not have put an extremly concerted effort with a substantial amount of forethought into it. But there isn't. So instead we have a lot of people that don't know how to properly witness, and a lot of others who probably don't even care. For those others, witnessing is about pride. It is about them being heard and feeling important.

And it sickens me nearly to tears every time I see it. If for no other reason than it is a reminder of those I pushed away, and how I failed God as His servant because of my pride.
Yakworld.
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