My drip coffee maker at home has three settings:
- 1-4 Cups
As I’ve observed my coffee maker over the past few years, my hunch is that the “1-4 Cups” setting and the “Bold” setting are actually the exact same thing. It seems send the water through the coffee grounds a bit slower, which is good when you have a small amount of coffee brew, or when you want to extract a bit more flavor from the grounds to create a “bold” cup of coffee.
Same setting (probably), but two applications for the setting. This got me thinking about the differences between engineers and user-experience (UX) designers.
UX designers and engineers
If my coffee maker indeed only has two settings (“regular” and “slow”), the engineer’s impulse would be to indicate there are only two settings, and label them as such. The engineer gives the raw information, trusting the user to discern or discover the various applications and implications of these settings. The engineer thinks from the product’s perspective.
However, the UX designer thinks in the opposite direction, from the user’s experience of a product back to the product. So a UX designer who knows that a slower-paced brew is good for both small amounts of coffee and for bolder-flavored coffee will create three settings instead of two.
The engineer thinks, “There’s only two settings,” but the UX designer thinks, “There are three applications,” thus making it easier for a user, who isn’t thinking about how fast the water is passing through her coffee grounds. She’s thinking about how much coffee she wants to brew and how strong she wants it. This is why UX design is important.
Anyway, this got me thinking about evangelism.
UX designer evangelism vs. engineer evangelism
Too often I think we approach evangelism like engineers. We think that our job is to explain the theology of the atonement, and hope that people can work out the implications and applications on their own… we think from the theology’s perspective.
But this isn’t how Jesus did evangelism. To follow his lead, we need to learn to do evangelism like UX designers. Instead of starting from the mechanics of how salvation works, we’d be better off starting from the experience of the hearer, doing the work of discerning implications and applications so we can make those clear to people at the outset. Probably way before they understand anything about the theology of salvation or atonement.
Because most people aren’t walking around thinking, “I sure feel alienated from God. I wonder how I’ll ever be reconciled to him.” No, they’re thinking on a much different level, like, “My job sucks,” or “I’m not sure I want to be married anymore,” or “I don’t have any friends I can be real with” or “Wow I sure love living in this neighborhood.”
If you think like a UX designer in evangelism, you’ll start by proclaiming the implications of the gospel to the specific person you’re talking with (and to discover which implications might be relevant, you’ll likely need to spend quite awhile asking questions and getting to know them as a person).
This is how Jesus did evangelism
Which is how Jesus did it. He never really explains a theology of salvation or atonement at the outset. Instead, he just proclaims specific good news to the people he is talking with:
- “Take up your mat and walk.”
- “Come down out of that tree, Zaccheus. I’m coming to your house for lunch.”
- “Throw your nets on the other side of the boat.”
- “Neither do I condemn you. Go and leave your life of sin.”
- “Will you give me a drink?”
- “Peter, come and have breakfast.”
The “settings” of how salvations works are far less important in evangelism than simply hearing good news and responding to it. So when it comes to evangelism, try acting more like a UX designer and less like an engineer.
Darien Gabriel says
Great insight here Ben!
Kathy Nelson says
This is a lens I have not looked through intentionally before. Thanks for bringing it to the forefront. I can see the power in it and the invitation to get out of God’s way meaning we so often feel the need to explain every nut and bolt instead of letting God do the work of transformation at His pace in each individual’s life. Great stuff, Ben!!!
Ben Sternke says
Thanks Kathy! Glad it was helpful.
Steve McGarvey says
As a career UX Designer and Christian, this article was superbly written. Gave you a follow and mention on Twitter. *Hat tip*