Today’s guest article is provided by Paul Stokes, renewal advocate for the Group for Evangelism and Renewalwithin the United Reformed Church (UK), or GEAR.
I am on mission work, conducting Evangelism Training Ministry in Nicaragua working with Young Life Leadership on the Healing Ministry of Jesus.
Is it rude to listen-in on other people’s conversations?
Try doing it after worship one week, and pay attention to what, or who, people are talking about.
It seems to me that a lot of these conversations are pastoral, and some of them are simply social. But it is rare to hear someone chatting about about their faith or mentioning Jesus.
Buried in bland talk
As a Minister, I’m pleased with the pastoral caring that happens as people share their hopes, joys and concerns with one another. And it’s probably inevitable that everyday life ‘stuff’ gets talked about. But it seems odd that Jesus’ people can meet together …and then leave him out of the conversation.
Why does this happen?
Maybe we are simply not used to talking about our faith and, for whatever reason, we feel awkward mentioning the name of Jesus.
It seems that we happily talk about our other friends, but not about him.
More generally, I wonder how much we talk to each other about our faith?
How readily do we talk about our praying; about what we have discovered in Scripture; about what the Holy Spirit has been saying to us, or how we have seen the Father at work in our lives? In fact, do we even mention Father, Jesus and the Spirit, or do they become buried beneath the non-specific label of ‘God’?
So when it comes to evangelism, I am not surprised to meet Christians who find it hard to talk about Jesus. If we don’t talk about him among friends, then why would we find it easy to talk about him with strangers?
Perhaps this is why so many of us struggle with the idea of evangelism. Quite simply, we are not used to talking about our Saviour. We are not used to hearing his name on our own lips. It sounds strange, and so we feel awkward.
Listen to yourself
I began by asking if it is rude to listen-in on other people’s conversations?
Maybe we should first listen to our own conversations.
So after worship next weekend, listen to yourself and see whether you are talking about Jesus. We need a revolution in our Christian conversations, and you might be the catalyst for changing the way your church talks.
And I wonder …what impact would it have on visitors if they happened to overhear Christians talking about Christ?
Rev. Paul Stokes is a United Reformed Church Minister in Plymouth, Devon, pastoring at Plymstock United Church (www.plymstock.org.uk). He is also involved in the UK version of the Dunamis and Ignite courses from PRMI.