On Saturday, we held our annual church family fun day. A bouncy castle, crafts, treasure hunt, a children’s entertainer and the like – all offered free of charge to the local community. Today, I heard about some of the great conversations that occurred on the day, and it inspired me to write about our witness for the church magazine. What follows picks up on that experience and is heavily influenced by Neil Cole‘s book Organic Church …
“Why do you do this?”
No, not a question of despair, but one asked several times by visitors to our recent Family Fun Day. (And let me add to my children’s public thank-you of Dianne for her tremendous organisation of the day.)
Why do you do this? Why do you put on an event free of charge, with no strings attached? They are good questions, just the ones we wanted people to ask. And they are easy to answer if we know the Gospel. We say, God is like this. God gives love unconditionally. He wants people to respond, but he gives in the first place. He gives, whether we give back or not.
Obviously, we hope that as a result people will engage with us more through events like Holiday Club and Messy Church as a result. We hope, too, that we might be known in the community as a group of people whose actions in love provoke regular “Why do you do this?” questions, not just for what we put on together as a church, but from the deeds of our individual lives.
Yes, it’s easy to answer these questions. You don’t need to have studied academic Theology like I have in order to give good answers. All you need is a personal experience of Christ in your life. Because we answer out of our own spiritual experience, and relying on the Holy Spirit. There is a place for intellectually defending our faith, but it’s not everyone’s calling.
Sometimes we’ve made it too hard to be an effective Christian witness. We’ve expected people to jump the hurdles of church committees and study courses before trusting them to say anything in the name of Christ.
What poppycock! Jesus healed people or led them to faith and then sent them out immediately to tell their friends and families what they had experienced. How crazy we are to think we know better than him!
Yes, it’s right to look for maturity, but if we think maturity comes from sitting in a classroom reading a textbook, we are deluded. Maturity comes from experience.
So I want to encourage you all in this simple message this month. What is your experience of Christ? Recount it. Write it down, if it helps.
And cultivate that quiet reflectiveness that listens for the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
If we went out into the local community like that, we wouldn’t need fancy programmes, we wouldn’t need massive budgets, we’d have the richest resource of all: the Spirit of Christ.
Remember: we may not all be evangelists, but we are all witnesses. And witnesses simply have to describe what they have seen and experienced. It’s surprisingly powerful, even when engaging the most intellectual of people.
Do you think we can rise to the occasion? I think so.