Sunday, January 15, 2012

Evangelism and the P.I.T. Maneuver

This story was originally posted on another blog, on May 24, 2008.

By now, most of you have probably heard of the P.I.T Maneuver, also known as the "Precision Immobilization Technique." The fundamental purpose of this maneuver is to bring a dangerous vehicle pursuit to a quick and safe resolution. The maneuver is accomplished when one car pursuing another can force the pursued vehicle to abruptly turn sideways to the direction of travel, causing the driver to lose control and stop.

Yesterday, I went to Hollywood Boulevard with Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron, Mark Spence (Dean of the School of Biblical Evangelism, and other members of The Way of the Master team to film some interviews for Season Three.

Ray rode with me. We followed the suspect vehicle driven by this man (pictured left)--Mark Spence. I use the term "suspect vehicle" because whenever I follow Mark anywhere in a vehicle, he makes his mission to try to "lose me" (as he says). Mark will readily admit that to this point he has been unsuccessful.

During our drive to Hollywood, Ray remarked that I appeared to be following Mark "very closely." I explained to Ray how Mark likes to try to "lose me."

"Tony, do you know how to do a pit maneuver?" Ray asked.

"Why? Would you like to see me 'pit' Mark?" I asked.

Before Ray could answer, I snuggled up to Mark's right rear quarter panel, and then quickly ducked in behind him, before I came too close.

("Close" can be a subjective term, which may be defined differently, from one person to the next, depending upon one's perspective. Note: no evangelists were harmed or in any danger during the making of this story. And no vehicle code violations occurred.)

Ray gasped and chuckled. I think his reaction was a combination of surprise, fear, and humor. Ray immediately picked up the phone and called Scotty, who was riding with Mark.

"Scotty, did you see that? Tony almost did a pit maneuver on Mark?"

Apparently, both men were aware of the "close call." (Again, "close" is both a relative and subjective term.)

Had I followed through with "the pit," it would have been a beautiful move. But I digress.

As we continued our drive to Hollywood, Ray likened the P.I.T. Maneuver to the Law, and how the Law is a wonderful gift from God to show sinners their true spiritual condition and to literally spin them around--causing them to turn from their sin, in repentance and faith.

One of the very special blessings of serving with Living Waters is the time I am allowed to spend with Ray. Quite frankly, his mind is beautiful. I think it is safe to say that I learn something during every conversation I have with my mentor. I can listen to him talk about God and evangelism all day long.

I told Ray that I was going to expand on his analogy, in a blog article. So, here it goes.

Why Use a P.I.T. Maneuver in Evangelism?

So many times I have watched as fellow evangelists get bogged down in lengthy conversations with people who would characterize themselves as intellectuals or "free thinkers." Typically it is the skeptic, agnostic, atheist, or false convert that falls into these usually self-assigned category.

Round and round the Christian goes, debating everything under the sun, making hardly a dent in the proud-hearted unbeliever.

In law enforcement, the longer a pursuit lasts, the more dangerous it becomes, and the more likely the end result will be tragic. The longer the pursuit, the more brazen and over-confident the suspect may become. The longer the intellectual argument, the more self-righteous the unbeliever may become. The longer the pursuit, the more fatigued, careless, or even discouraged the pursuing officer may become. The longer the intellectual argument, the more discouraged and even frustrated the evangelist may become.

Again, the P.I.T. Maneuver is effective when properly applied because it can shorten an otherwise prolonged pursuit, with minimal risk to the officers involved, the general public, and even the suspect. The Law is effective when properly applied because it moves the conversation from the intellect (the place where the unbeliever justifies his or her self-righteousness and unbelief), to the conscience (the place of the knowledge of good and evil, and the existence of God). See Romans 3:19-20; 7:7; Galatians 3:24; 1 Tim. 1:8 for further study.

When involved in a pursuit and contemplating using the P.I.T. Maneuver, an officer will pick the best time and place to make his or her move. The officer will wait for the suspect to make a mistake--wrong turn, change in speed, or any one of a number of lapses in judgment (not that running from the police isn't enough of a lapse).

The same can be said for applying the Law when engaged in spiritual conversation with an intellectual. It really doesn't take much to take such a person off their game. For instance, instead of going several rounds with an atheist about evolution, simply ask, "So, how did life begin." They can't answer that question. And while their wheels are turning as they grope for an answer, you "P.I.T." them with the Law.

"Okay, since you don't know how life began; and since in the vast sum of what you do not know there is, at the very least, room for the possibility of God's existence; what do you think happens to someone when they die? Would you consider yourself to be a good person?"

There are many other examples I can give. But, for the sake of brevity (not necessarily one of my gifts), allow me to reiterate this. Don't feel compelled to engage in lengthy, intellectual conversations with unbelievers. Listening carefully and look for that opportunity to move the conversation from the intellect to the conscience. And then "P.I.T." them with the only thing that can spin them around--cause them to repent and turn to Christ--the Law and the Gospel.

Thanks, Ray, for helping me to apply yet another law enforcement analogy to evangelism.