Ever tried to directly convert a Christian to Messianic Judaism? It doesn't work, does it? And why not?
"Because of these differences in basic beliefs and values, the goal of dialogic argument is seldom to convert resistant readers to the writer's position. The best a writer can hope for is to reduce somewhat the level of resistance, perhaps by increasing the reader's willingness to listen as preparation for future dialogue. In fact, once dialogue is initiated, parties who genuinely listen to each other and have learned to respect each other's views might begin finding solutions to shared problems," (Writing Arguments, Eighth Edition, Ramage, Bean, Johnson)
So is there a less-threatening strategy for dialoging with Christians? Yes: ROGERIAN ARGUMENT.
I apologize but I have to use a big quote here:
"Rogerian Argument...An even more powerful strategy for addressing resistant audiences is a conciliatory strategy often called Rogerian argument, named after psychologist Carl Rogers, who used this strategy to help people resolve differences. Rogerian argument emphasizes 'empathetic listening,' which Rogers defined as the ability to see an issue sympathetically from another person's perspective. He trained people to withhold judgment of another person's ideas until after they listened attentively to the other person, understood that person's reasoning, appreciated that person's values, respected that person's humanity...What Carl Rogers understood is that traditional methods of argumentation are threatening. Because Rogerian argument stresses the psychological as well as logical dimensions of argument, and because it emphasizes reducing threat and building bridges rather than winning an argument, it is particularly effective when dealing with emotionally laden issues.
Under Rogerian strategy, the writer reduces the sense of threat in her argument by showing that both writer and resistant audience share many basic values. Instead of attacking the audience as wrongheaded, the Rogerian writer respects the audiences's views and demonstrates an understanding of the audience's position before presenting her own position. Finally, the Rogerian writer seldom asks the audience to capitulate entirely to the writer's side--just to shift somewhat toward the writer's views. By acknowledging that she has already shifted toward the audience's views, the writer makes it easier for the audience to accept compromise. All of this negotiation ideally leads to a compromise between--or better, a synthesis of--the opposing positions.
The key to successful Rogerian argument, besides the art of listening, is the ability to point out areas of agreement between the writer's and reader's positions....You begin this process by summarizing your reader's position sympathetically, stressing your shared values...Building bridges like these between you and your readers makes it more likely that they will listen to you when you present your own position," (ibid, pg. 138)
I finally realize why the UMJC was able to build a bridge with Grove Ave. Baptist Church! They don't say that Christians are "wrongheaded" and that they should follow Torah. Okay, Christians SHOULD follow Torah but maybe let's not tell them that right up front since it is so threatening to their belief system. The UMJC has emphasized a COMMON VALUE. What might that be? A COMMON LOVE FOR ISRAEL. These first Friday Shabbat events are really a celebration of Zionism that "just happens" to have some Messianic teaching thrown in.
So I guess you CAN learn something from UMJC and FFOZ. (But really this type of strategy goes back to the psychologist Carl Rogers--let's not give the UMJC too much credit!)