Stand In The Corner

In efforts to expand my own “top-of-the-funnel,” I’ve been going to English corners regularly for about three weeks now. Which is about the most tiring activity I know of, but it’s also an amazingly simple way to meet people. Some of the meetings are large (more than 75 people), some are still on the small side (smaller than 30). But the smaller the group you personally talk to, the better the results anyway. So the small ones are still very much worth our time. One reason that the whole thing is more beneficial than it used to be is the help of our church members. English corner is about the closest thing to visitation that we have. Last night, for instance, there were six people at a smaller English corner associated with our church. Because ministry ideas like this are fairly common, especially in this part of the world, here’s the product of some of my recent mulling for your co-mulling pleasure.


1. Having an investment attitude is better in the long haul. To be honest, we used to approach English corners with something like a strip-mining mindset. Get in there, shake the place up, grab whatever’s interesting, and make your escape. And it worked! But we destroyed English corners almost single-handedly. When it stopped producing large amounts of visits to our church, we stopped going, which caused the value of the English corner to go down (value is measured in English speaking opportunities). This time around, we’re going and really trying to help students improve their English and have a good time. And the groups are growing.


2. Which brings us to: being committed to the leadership creates a great alliance. Leaders of English corners work hard to try to get foreigners to come. Not surprisingly, they don’t. Some come sporadically, none regularly. It means a lot to the leaders when they know they can count on your being there weekly. They involve you. Which means, that as the English corner grows, it grows around your participation, making your voice stronger. Furthermore, you can influence the leaders in positive ways. Pretty cool thing is, both of the English corners we attend now are organized and led by members of our church! Who have both approached me and told me that they felt their organization was given to them by God to influence college students for His glory! Those are definitely people we want to help! And they have already contributed in major ways to our church.


3. Keeping a gracious attitude is the only hope for real impact. It’s easy to be annoyed, tired, frustrated, or offended at an activity like this. If your going for something less than selfless love, it will show. Don’t ask me how I know. But if you can show someone your grace at something as mundane as an English corner, there’s a good chance that relationship could be life-changing. Grace says, “I will be trampled upon and disrespected, but I will show love because that’s what’s been shown to me by God.”


4. Making spiritual connections is most effective in natural transitions. Meaning, the way to get people from English corner to your church isn’t some clever transition into the Bible. “Hey, is that a double cheeseburger you got there? That reminds me of something else that has layers… Hell! Anyone interested?” That may work for some people, must some of use with slightly worse comic timing will probably elicit blank (or horrified) stares. The thing to do is not be less Christian, but more. Just be who you are in Christ. If to share a story, you need to mention that it happened at church, then say so. If the reason you don’t do something is because you’re a Christian, then say so. Don’t treat the word like it’s the A-bomb. With dodgy eyes and nervous laughter.


Nor am I saying that you should be something less than purposeful in evangelism. There is nothing more loving that you can do than share the Gospel with them. But I am saying that you are there to love them and care for them whether or not they accept the Gospel. Right? The best thing you can do is make lots and lots of friends. It’s only natural that a friend would invite another friend to his church. And it’s only natural that a friend would accept. Be loving enough to share the Gospel, but be yet more loving and bring it to them as a gracious friend.


So that’s English Corner 101. Maybe you don’t have one near you. But I think these principles would go a long way towards making an impact for Christ in any group you find yourself in – a workforce, a coaching staff, a reading club, a kid’s soccer league, a neighborhood committee, a golf team.

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