Under the banner of Revitalize, the EFCC is becoming increasingly engaged in and passionate about evangelism. That word is like an ink-blot test: there is a vast array of ways that it can be interpreted.
The bottom line is we want people to introduce other people to Jesus. We're not putting all of our eggs in baskets labelled "program" or "strategy". Instead, we want our churches to be dynamic communities who connect with people, in honest relationships. There are a few challenges we need to acknowledge. For most of us, faith is very close to our core selves. And our faith isn't always expressed or pointed at with grace.
This sets up two fearful expectations:
- We are likely to be rejected because of our faith
- And that will hurt. A lot!
Consider this anonymous story about a member of an EFCC congregation -- we'll name her Sue. (If that is her real name, it's a total fluke; I don't know it either!) While Sue was at work one day, her superior asked her about her faith. Given the environment and timing, she felt ill-prepared to have that conversation. So she avoided it. However, that didn't sit right with her.
The weekend provided some time to pause, reflect and gain perspective. So the next week, she sought out her colleague and asked if she could re-open the topic.
It led to a half-hour conversation about who Jesus was, and who Sue believes Jesus is to her. The clouds didn't break open. There was no shimmering beam of light. This isn't that kind of story.
Rather, it is a gentle reminder that curiosity is out there. And when given the chance, we can talk to people without presuming that we'll be written off as weird...or worse!
It might be tempting to believe that evangelism needs a whole church present. Or it's something that belongs to the select few with "Professional Evangelist" on their business cards.
This example was neither of those things. Evangelism here was a normal conversation in everyday life.
When we believe that curiosity is a sign of the Spirit's inner working, it helps us to frame our interactions better. It's also important to frame sharing faith as dialogue. It's not a matter of getting the script right or not, but being ourselves and being present.
Revitalize is giving the EFCC fresh impetus to ask God to stretch us and use us to speak the name of Jesus to people in our lives. Here is an example where God took care of the transition and all Sue needed to do was respond to the open door. May this become part of our normal.