In my topsy turvy life, I find myself doing the ‘normal’ things in life. Tasks like taking the kids too school or dropping off Joshua at playgroup. It is sometimes hard to reconcile this part of my life with the part of me that jets off to different places. However, sometimes I learn things in the normal things of life.
But hey! this entry is not about me. It is more about the task of evangelism itself. If you look at most churches, and especially their evangelistic content, I do believe that you can see a pattern, especially in the UK.
Courses dominate our agenda. Parenting Courses, Marriage Courses, How to Stand on Your Head Courses…. Now the thing that bothers me, is that as I was stood outside of Joshua’s playgroup, I noticed that they too also ran courses. They too had a parenting course, they too had a marriage course, they too had this course and that course.
Then I thought, what difference is there between my playgroup and my Church? Or without wanting to single out my Church, the wider Church? Now, before you all rush at me, hatchets in hand. Let me tell you what I believe. I do believe part of evangelism is to practically demonstrate Jesus. Anyone who has seen the Angola video below will understand that I personally place a strong emphasis on that. The dynamic that bothers me is actually an imbalance where we loose Jesus in the midst of social action.
Now some of us will say, well we are Christians, by the fact that we are involved in such ventures, people come to know Jesus. I am not so sure that follows, logically or spiritually. I have seen many ventures where no-one comes to know Jesus despite loads of service, I have also observed the converse situation. The dynamic that seems to make a difference, is the intention and open life transparency of individuals who passionately love Jesus, they speak of Him, they show Him in action. The dynamic seems to be that when Jesus is held on to, when his honored, he draws people to Himself.
Charles Colson, ex politician, jailbird and now quite a good Christian, talked of the Church’s understanding of God as being like the ‘God of the Gaps’. That is, where we do not understand something in the universe, bang! that must be God. The problem is as knowledge increases and the gaps close, our understanding of the majesty of God decreases and he gets pushed out. ie. The atom is not about God and creation, it is about physics, you get the idea…
I think our evangelism can be the same. It is getting harder to point to Jesus. It is getting in some quarters more difficult to stand up for what is right. As that happens, I think what we term as evangelism shifts. We end up declaring whatever is easiest, or whatever is socially acceptable. What happens when those gaps close too? Are we left with nothing? Is it that we end up with a dwindling program of evangelism that is exactly the same as my son’s playgroup? Harsh, to the point, but I think it is true.
As some of you will know I run an evangelistic charity, yes our aim is to help people, but it is also to speak of Jesus and Him alone. The biggest temptation we face is to simply settle to be like everyone else, a bunch of do-gooders doing nice things in Africa. We as called to be so much more. Evangelism is not about declaring our being good people, it is not about being nice, it is about being Jesus. I’ve decided to make no apology to spend a significant amount of our time preaching about and pointing people to Him.
Those of us in the Church, we are beginning to loose the skills and gifts needed to lift up the name of Jesus, to release people from darkness and to be the light. I pray that the we in the Church realize this, before we end up letting go of Jesus, and loosing the only distinctive, and Saviour we have.
So what will it be, is it time for us to be the Church, or a Playgroup?