Why don't I talk about Jesus more frequently?
I wish I knew, exactly.
There's a point in every evangelism series where the speaker tries to get at why we don't share the gospel more often.
It makes sense, right? They have to try to get at this mysterious stumbling block, whatever it is. If we're talking about evangelism out of some perceived deficit, there must be something wrong with me, something we can fix with a minor homiletical adjustment.
But there's a problem with this reasoning. It assumes that the problem is in "me", that I, as an individual, need help. And, as with most flawed reasoning, this reasoning is partly true. Part of the reason I don't share the gospel more often has to do with my bad theology, my lack of compassion, my shaky grasp of the "proper" technique. Part of the reason. Only part.
For the rest, we need to look to the community. What if it were the case that one of the reasons I talk about Jesus infrequently is because when I'm around Christians that kind of conversation is considered show-offy and elicits eye-rolls? What if another reason was that I'm so busy going to Christian meetings that I don't have time to develop meaningful friendships with people who don't yet know Jesus? What if yet another reason was that I don't feel that I can trust my Christian friends to treat my unChristian friends (whom I've already admitted I'm on shallow terms with) with respect and love? What if there's something wrong with "us", not just with "me"?
The systems in the community can hinder the witness of the community. How many of us have been stirred by a sermon on evangelism and left the meeting wanting to share the gospel, but had no one to share it with?
This is a tough spot for me personally. In GCF, we refuse to ask students to do anything that we're unwilling to do ourselves. Sometimes I think that the only authority we wield is the moral authority earned over years of doing ourselves what we ask them to do.
How do I preach an evangelism series and address hindrances folks might have with evangelism if I'm unwilling to address the things that are holding me back? I could preach about theology and compassion and technique, but that would miss the mark for me. My problem isn't primarily with my theology or my compassion or my technique. My problem mainly has to do with the systems and structures into which I have plugged myself, systems of sarcastic irreverance and busyness and dishonesty. How do I address these systems and structures that I've built and had a hand in maintaining over the years?
Jesus addressed systems as well as individuals. Somewhere in his example, I'll bet I find help. And if I can't find the help I'm looking for in his example, he's given me something better: his Spirit, present in me and in us. I wish I knew how to tackle this.
Lord, help us to be relevant. We need your help.