And then, hairdressers are trusted with the precious commodity that is hair, so clients are more likely to trust them to discuss matters of the soul. Most importantly, hairdressers make good evangelists for one simple reason: they’re armed.
Ok, scissors have limited potential as a weapon but, in the right hands, they can be lethal – hence encouraging a more attentive response.
This talk of evangelistic hairdressers is no theory. My hairdresser friend, Larry, who painstakingly tries to shape my shrinking hirsute peninsula into something stylish, is gifted at sharing the good news of Jesus with his clients.
But recently the tables were turned. Sitting in the barber’s chair, I became somewhat evangelistic, and the chap cutting my hair was the eager listener. This was an answer to prayer, because my attempts at sharing my faith over the last decade or so have been lacking. In missional terms, I had lost my voice. Reacting to the overzealous, cringeworthy evangelistic techniques of my earliest years as a Christian – when I would delightedly buttonhole strangers and inflict a breathless monologue upon them (regardless of if they were interested, intrigued or even awake) – I had fallen quiet on the evangelistic front.
And many of us have done the same. Excused by the oft-used preaching quote, ‘By all means preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words’, some of us have packed up using words altogether. But the chap who said that was none other than St Francis of Assisi, famous not only for chatting with squirrels, but also for giving away everything that he owned. When you’ve donated all you have to the poor because of your love for Jesus, you probably don’t have to use that many words. So I’ve been asking God to help me speak out a little more. Last week, away from home, I walked into a random, unfamiliar hairdressers, and had an immediate opportunity to share my faith.
So quickly did the hairdresser start asking me questions about Christianity, I forgot to say how I wanted my hair cut. Enthusiastically chatting about the difference between dead religion and living faith, I was distracted, and then I removed my glasses, so I couldn’t see what was happening in the mirror. Spec-less, I’m as blind as the proverbial bat (actually, blinder, seeing as I’m not equipped with sonic radar).
Twenty minutes later, I put my glasses back on, to be greeted by the reflection of a skinhead paramilitary. When I walked back to the church where I was speaking later that evening, a lady volunteer (who I’d met earlier in the day with a fuller complement of hair) greeted me by saying, ‘Gosh! Who did that to you?’ My wife welcomed me with a look of sheer horror that proves that her eyes work well, followed by a sympathetic smile that proves that her compassionate heart still works too.
But here’s what happened. I’d invited the hairdresser to come to church that night, and gave him some books, quite expecting that he wouldn’t show, oh me of little faith. But he did come. He came up to me afterwards and told me that he’d enjoyed the evening, had signed up for Alpha, and had agreed to meet the minister for coffee later that week.
I later joked that I laid down my hair for the sake of the gospel, although there was never much to lay down. But I recovered something far better: the authentic joy of having a natural conversation that will hopefully help someone to discover how much God loves them.
I’m getting my voice back, ever so slowly. And hopefully, one bright, beautiful day, I’ll grow my hair back too.