Monday, June 29, 2009
Hiding The Ball
Balancing Word and Deed
Mark Daniels links to Carolyn Arends in CT:
A friend was involved for years in a weekly service intended to reach out to inner-city kids, the majority of whom had little church experience and no acknowledged relationship with Jesus.I spend a lot of time on this blog discussing people that talk about Jesus endlessly, but never allow His Holy Spirit to transform them. This looks at the flip side which is, it is possible to spend doing much time being a good Christian, but not talking about it. Especially when it comes to doing evangelism. It is not an easy balance, and in the end where the balance point is is individualistic.
If it had been up to me, I would have made those events "seeker-friendly." I'd have focused on building relationships, avoiding anything too religious or high pressure. But my friend went a different way. Every week, he led worship, one song after another, always unabashedly about—or to—Jesus.
I'm sure some of the kids walked away and never looked back. But hundreds stayed. Many made decisions to follow Christ.
Some ministry leaders were concerned that teens who didn't know Jesus were being asked to participate in worship. My friend would reply, "How else are they supposed to get to know him?"
Proclaiming Christ without the evidence of lives changed becomes hollow words, devoid of authenticity. Acting Christlike, without declaring Christ as the motivation behind the behavior, runs the risk of the people you contact never knowing where to turn to access you you apparently have. But Ms. Arends is correct, over-proclamation can be off-putting.
You see, it takes a church, and a relationship, and a proclamation to help someone discover a true relationship with Jesus.
It takes a relationship because only in relationship can someone come to know us sufficiently to see the evidence of Jesus in our lives. It takes a relationship because by being in relationship with someone can we know them well enough to know what approach, when will be effective, and even in relationship we will misjudge from time to time.
It takes a proclamation because Christ was after all, The Word. Even Christ himself preached. Because even evil people can occasionally act Christlike, we must declare the source of our strength and goodness.
It takes a church because no one is equipped to do all of this. It takes a church because none of us is fully quipped to do all of this. It takes a church becasue only in community can the authenticity of the proclaimed word be fully demonstrated. It takes a church becasue in a church others can hold us accountable to make sure we are doing all we can for with those we are in relationship with.