Friday, 20 May 2011

Proclaim: No Church & No Christianity

Last Sunday I set a challenge for the Vineyard as part of our 'Proclaim' series. It went like this, "For the coming week I don't want you taking about Church, Christianity and lets stop doing evangelism to people". I haven't had a melt down nor have I lost faith in Jesus as the Saviour of the world. We get so confused, perplexed, frustrated and deflated trying all the evangelism methods, we know Jesus is the way, the truth and life that is truly life and in our passion to proclaim the good news we can even become weird. When many of us don't see our efforts work, as in people coming to faith in Jesus, we conclude "it doesn't work", "I don't have the gift of evangelism" or "maybe it's my personality." We end up leaving the proclaim stuff to others with bigger personalities  and quote St Francis "Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words."  The problem with this is it's getting a little quiet out there with people not proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom, and the fact that no Fransican scholar throughout the world can find any of Francis' writings quoting "use words if necessary".

So what do we do to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom? What if we stopped doing evangelism to people and instead introduced Jesus, talked about Jesus. What's the difference? Well, if we go with Jesus the good news moves from method to person and surely Jesus has changed our lives not Christianity. The good news of the Kingdom is embodied in Jesus Christ and yet I find myself hiding behind my job as a pastor and thinking I'm proclaiming the gospel. Let's be honest we all do it from time to time, we can talk about Church,we can debate Bell, hell and our air tight doctrines but keep Jesus out of the conversation. When I was first introduced to the Vineyard Tribe, I was grabbed and attracted by how much more people talked about Jesus than Paul. I live in an island where better preaching means we talk more about Paul than Jesus, strange don't you think?

It's a challenge to move from Church talk to Christ, its said, that whatever  your passion is, you are likely to bring it into conversation within three minutes of meeting a new person. I'm passionate about a lot of things such as Indian food, my wife, my kids and  the Swifts FC and by the way this isn't in order of preference. What do you talk about?


It begs the question, do we like Jesus? I know He's our LORD and Saviour but be honest, do we like Him, enjoy Him, and take the opportunities to talk about Him when the opportunity presents itself. Do we hid behind badges, bumper stickers and symbols of a fish? What if we talked about Jesus, what if we talked about the change He's made in our lives, what if in conversations we said something like "here's what Jesus said about that," what if we told people about the adventure it is following Him. If we tried this new strategy it might take the pressure of us and what if we lifted Jesus up and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

What if we stopped doing evangelism, what if we stopped talking about Church and Christianity just for a week and talked about Jesus and see what happens. I have a feeling that your faith and energy to proclaim the good news will grow and come alive. The pressure is off when we conclude that it's not about us and to a certain degree it's not about how we deliver the good news. 

“Jesus does not give recipes that show the way to God as other teachers of religion do. He is himself the way.” - Karl Barth 


Bonnie Farmer said...

Just flipping through the blogs and found you. Great post. I come from a Vineyard in Kansas, USA. Looking forward to coming back. Blessings - Bonnie Farmer

David Dominguez said...

Thank you for publishing this post. What a great reminder to immerse yourself in Jesus.

Carmen said...

Relief. Your words were encouraging. We MUST keep spreading the good news about Jesus. I wrote a spiritual memoir as a way to get the word out there faster than I ever could with my mouth alone. I’ve been feeling down because there are so many people who don’t believe or don’t relate to the power of God upon humanity. It’s a challenge when facing the enemy because he wants us to shut our mouths, to feel hopeless as though no one is listening to our testimony. My dad use to talk and talk and talk and although I had no comment as a kid, his words stuck in the back of my mind and I was able to access his words when I needed them. That’s how it is with the good news we share. Satan says, “They’re not listening!” But God is saying, “The seed is planted!” Let the Lord give life to the seeds we plant. Thank you so much for continuing on!