Today I have been at the Fellowship of Parish Evangelists, my first time here.
This morning we had a guy, Richard Scott who said things I have blogged about many times before that we need to not just ‘do evangelism’ but release, encourage, inspire and equip every Christian to “tell their story”, “to be good news”, “live out their faith”, “do the work of an evangelist” to “always be prepared to give an account for the hope that we have, but do so with gentleness and respect”.
The word he brought to us was “SCRUB” Strategic Collaboration Reaching Unreached Britain… I smirked as I thought of the title for this blog “Scrubbers for Jesus!”
It made me think too about the joke J.John tells, when he became a Christian his mum was worried he’d been brain washed to which he replied “Mum, if you knew what was in my brain, you’d think it needed a wash!”
So what is he saying.
To often we’ve tried to be great evangelists rather than motivate the whole people of God in evangelism.
Yet this isn’t news, in 1944 the report “Towards the conversion of England” said “unless every Christian shares their faith the Church will die”.
In fact a recent report “Talking Jesus” from the Evangelical Alliance say that only about 1% of the population can be reached by “professionals” which does leave the other 99% up to the rest of the Church! The best use of clergy time is not running around trying to push the figure to 2% but rather, to help, encourage and equip our Churches members in sharing their faith with their friends.
That is a better strategy, let’s help one another become match fit, able to speak in a normal way about our faith “with gentleness and respect” but in a way that works that’s real and authentic with people. J.John again says “there are two reasons why people don’t become Christians 1) they don’t know any Christians and 2) they know a Christian”.
Interestingly they reckon that approximately about 1 in 5 people are interested in finding out more about Jesus, so real potential opportunities here, more over the research shows that about 3/4 of people who aren’t Christians know a practicing Christian, however when asked about a conversation with a Christian about faith 30% said “it hadn’t gone well”. Sadly not a surprise, as I think most Christians feel ill equipped to share their faith with their family, friends, colleagues and neighbours.
I was talking with a lovely older Vicar -who now leads a Church in France- and says that he and his wife joined a choir, made friends, and invites people over for nice meals with wine and just chats with people, eventually there is often a normal and natural opportunity where people end up chatting about faith.
Another lady just bakes some cakes and invites her neighbours to pop in if they’d like for an ‘open house’ and gets to know people and this has led to some wonderful real conversations.
I wonder if perhaps we make it all too complicated? We try these courses, and invest in clever sermons and great gimmicks, and really the spirit of God is calling us to love people, spend time with them, be real and share our lives, and be patient but expectant for a natural opportunity to talk about faith to come up in a way that’s not contrived or freaky but loving, real, natural and unforced.
Perhaps the strategy is to be less strategic and more relational, loving people and giving them your time, space, your listening ear and waiting until God opens a door for his message?