Yesterday I heard the well-known evangelist J John address an annual consultation from the Group for Evangelism in London on the theme ‘For God’s sake say something!’. Around 70 people responsible for co-ordinating evangelism and mission across a variety of Christian denominations gathered for a discussion on the subject of proclamation evangelism- has it had its day or does it still have a role? J John may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but with great humility and purpose his keynote address provided a real challenge for the audience. He talked about a letter he had sent to 1,500 church asking them if they provided any sort of training programme to their congregation in how to share faith. Out of the 1,017 replies only 36 said they had something in place. Isn’t that just the problem with sharing our faith- it’s always somebody else’s responsibility. J John has developed a programme called Breaking News to help equip churches with some techniques and guidance on how to share faith: but is training without prayer or a real heart enough?
Jesus said the gospel is based around two prinicples: loving God and loving our neighbour. So how many of us care enough to pray by name for our neighbours ?(in fact how many of us really know our neighbours well enough to tell them that we are doing so?). J John went on to explain how his family are known locally as the ‘neighbours from heaven’ who care enough to help put and infirm neighbours to bed each night; to put out the bins of their elderly neighbours who can’t manage it, and to visit the dying son of a woman in the street who isn’t a Christian. They are ready to respond to need where it is because that’s what Jesus would do- even when they feel inadequate for the task.
I am becoming more convinced that praying, loving, caring and sharing is the best mission strategy we can have. This is how we can live out the gospel; this is how we can make a difference ,and this is how we can introduce Jesus- the saviour who loves- because that is what we’re meant to do. We don’t need a branded week/month of action to do this and then go away- hit and run mission has little legacy. We need to build it into our service for our neighbourhood day-in-day out and pray without ceasing. We then have the credibility to talk about the one in whose name we do this and people start to listen when they see what this love has caused us to do. Could there be a better calling card?
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