Monday, March 24, 2014

Can we talk about talking about Jesus without sounding sinister?


On Sunday I spoke for our church on Evangelism. Usually talks on evangelism aren't presented in evangelistic contexts, but our church is exactly that. We operate on the assumption that we're not just gathering followers of Jesus but all kinds of different people. 

For me it felt like the latest in a long line of real-life exercises contextualisation, trying to embody the good news of Jesus so it can be heard by our city. It was hard work but I really do think its possible to talk about pretty much anything to do with the good news of Jesus with anyone - you just need to think hard about your tone and your language and your heart.

The follower of Jesus doesn't exist in a bubble away from everyone else in this world. But if we live like we have our own sub-culture we'll start to use language (which reflects attitudes) that is at best rude, and at worst at odds with the very good news we believe.

Terms like "Non-Christian" are major red-flags, for example. Conceptually I agree that the divide exists but to label 95%+ of the population with a term they'd never use to describe themselves is really strange and counter-productive. I want everyone to have the opportunity to explore the claims of Christ and to be assured that there's no hype or pressure or forcefulness going on.

Evangelism is a dirty word for many. Evangelism sounds sinister. Something unpleasant you "do" to people. I decided to take that head on attempting to take apart some of the bad stuff and suggest other ways of seeing things. There really is good news to be considered and I want to do whatever I can to enable others to consider Jesus for themselves and to know that telling that to others is not at all weird. In the end, evangelism only means telling others good news. And Jesus left people as witnesses, with personal experience and written testimony. Plenty that can be considered. 

I wanted those who were exploring with us to have an opportunity to explore further, in some cases in the hope that they might begin to follow Jesus, and for others to see that they might be involved in telling others what they've seen.You can hear/read how I went about this here. Far from perfect, but hopefully some small steps in the right sort of direction. I took Luke 24:36-53 as my text, with these headings:
1. Witnesses of Physical Evidence
2. Witnesses of Written Evidence
3. Witnesses with Heavenly Power

PDF script: Hearing God Speak through Telling Others. (I speak without notes but it is scripted in the preparation)

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