I don’t know what your experience has been with Christians and the whole mission thing?
There some Christians, let’s call them the evangelicals (although not exclusively) who think it’s all about preaching the message, it’s about talking to people, it’s about discussion groups, giving out flyers… Ultimately it’s all about words.
…And to be fair there is a strong biblical basis for this way of thinking, just look at all the sermons that are recorded in the bible in their entirety…
Romans asks “how will they hear without someone preaching to them”, Phillippians talks about “holding out the word that gives life”.
Words matter, answers matter because real people ask real questions… I heard a wonderful story from a guy I met at a wedding who told me about coming to faith from reading C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.
It is important that we speak (and listen) to people and that they can clearly hear about Christ in a way they can understand and respond to.
Perhaps you can pray about having opportunities to speak and talk about the good news of Jesus?
…but the world has had an awful lot of words, and times words come cheap, often people talk about he importance of not just talking the talk but want us to walk the walk…
A quote that is often (mis)attributed to St. Francis, is “preach the gospel at all times and if necessarily use words!” Let’s face it when you admit you are a Christian, you are a marked person, people are watching you!
There is a great (and terrifying) quote which says “I can’t hear the words you are saying because your behaviour is shouting so loudly”… Although something of a cliché there is a lot of truth in the phrase “walking the walk not just talking the talk”.
There are many within the Church, people used to be dismissive and call them liberals, but actually they have a strong biblical mandate and they say that mission is all about loving service and the pursuit of justice… After-all James tells us ‘faith without works is dead’, Matthew 25 talks about the sheep and the goats and the prophets tell us about ‘doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly’.
I think people are looking at the lives of Christians to see if their faith makes a difference in their real everyday life. Is it real? Is it authentic? Does it work?
Perhaps there is someone you can bless with a random act of kindness today?
Maybe remember that what we do is seen not just by God, but by other people too (including our kids).
But others say words and actions are great, but what transforms lives is people encountering God and his Kingdom through signs and wonders… They point to the book acts and the words of Jesus where signs and wonders accompany the preaching of the gospel. They show us boldness and a risk taking faith, offering to pray for people, speaking out the prophetically.
Mission for them is all about that step of faith, about taking the risk, being expectant of the Kingdom to break in in the lives of real people.
People often ask me what is the key to mission/evangelism, and I normally say: pray, pray and pray some more!
So, which is right and the best?
Yet, I reckon they are all right.
I reckon mission and Kingdom living is about speaking out, living it out and God showing up.
Let’s be people who talk and listen, be people of conversations, people who lend books, write blogs, share leaflets, do alpha talks and use words for the glory of God in Christ.
Let’s be people whose lives match our words (as Paul said to Timothy, “watch your life and doctrine carefully”), be people who show the Kingdom in what they do, reflecting Jesus in how they act, literally embodying the prayer of St. Teresa being the hands and feet of Christ, our works proclaim the love of God in Christ.
Let’s be people who bang on the door of heaven, who are expectant about God at work in real peoples lives, who take steps of faith with prophetic words, prayer for healing and other signs and wonders. Who don’t just ‘do their bit’ but cry out to God to do that deep and wonderful thing he does deep inside of people in bringing them to him.
Let’s be people of words, works and Gods wonder, putting them all into practice in our daily lives, let’s not be one trick ponies.
(The idea of Words, Works and Wonders comes from Mike Pilivachi’s book “Live The Life”).