What does it mean to us to be a Christian in this society? We hear, at least in Christian circles, a lot of talk about evangelisation but how far do we carry it out; indeed, what does it mean?
We’ve been discussing it at my church, and to my surprise, there seems to be a focus on trying to talk to ourselves. When I, in my usual rather nervous way, raised the question of whether we intended to evangelise the ‘unchurched’ I was asked pointedly ‘how’? Being me, I didn’t say what I thought, which was ‘surely that is what we are here for, so how come our professional ministry has no plan?’ I was glad I didn’t, because it occurred to me later that I had committed the error of supposing that it was someone’s else’s job to evangelise, not mine. That ‘how?’ question was actually a better one than I had appreciated.
My lovely on-line Pastor, Gervase, has a good sermon here on sowing the seed, based on Mark 4:1-23. He reminds us that Jesus came preaching to us, and he taught as one with authority; He did not write a book, He did not set up a system, He taught, and He sent His Apostles to teach. So teaching is at the heart of what the Church is there to do. If we do not hear the word of the preacher, then how shall we be taught? Of course, there is also that question of authority which haunts all my posts – for of what use is it if we hear ‘another Gospel’?
How do we hear Christ? Well, if we go to church, we hear extracts from Holy Scripture, and we get a sermon/homily; but how good is the latter? One of things I like about Pastor Gervase is that his sermons are good meaty ones – he gives his people good measure – abundant and overflowing. But, as he points out in the sermon ‘Take heed how you hear’, most men and women do not think about God and know little or nothing about Jesus. Those of us who go to Church are fortunate – but what about the vast majority who do not?
In eighteenth century England the great preacher, John Wesley followed Christ’s example – he went from town to town on his horse, preaching the word of Christ wherever he stopped. He knew that in many English towns there were people not reached by the official church, and, instead of waiting for people to go to find one, he did what Christ did – he went out there to find them.
I was delighted when I looked at Pastor Gervase’s Facebook page and saw he is setting up an open air mission. That seems such a brave thing to someone like me – but it is the definitive Christian answer to ‘how?’ I suggested it the other evening at Church and was looked upon as a woman who had lost her senses – as indeed I might well be. Would I do it? Goodness me no, but there are those who could, and I’d be very happy to do my bit in classes at church which followed up any impact made by such preaching. But I don’t think we’re doing that – at my church we are going to be talking to each other – which is nice, but I do wonder if that is what Jesus would have done?