“I’m not an evangelist.” Many of us have used this line to remind ourselves of the people in our churches who naturally talk about Jesus with whoever they meet… and that we’re not one of those people. But it seems assumed that if I’m not one of these natural evangelists, then I’m not really called to speak the faith much at all. The words of St Francis are comforting: “Preach the Gospel at all times; use words only when necessary.”
The idea behind the saying is beautifully simple – we need to live the Gospel, not just speak it – but it’s also deceptive, as the quote can be used to justify never speaking at all. (Plus, as it turns out, St Francis probably never said it!)
Concluding that words are important, many of us don’t know what words to say! We’ve realised that older models of sharing just don’t work in our post-modern, post-Christian context. Like the one where we present two options – heaven or hell – and ask people to ‘choose’ which one they want. Or the “Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” approach. We need to find new approaches suitable for the post-Christian era in which we find ourselves – one that’s ‘secular’ yet also full of people seeking a true spiritual (but not ‘religious’) encounter.
I may not be called to preach to thousands, but I am called to witness to the Gospel through my life and my words.
Issue 25 of Intermission was released earlier this month. Over the coming weeks the articles will be posted to nzcms.org.nz/intermission. Occasionally we will highlight an article by including it in our weekly Interchange newsletter.
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