I think my daughter is a better evangelist than I am. She’s five years old.
Largely it’s because she hasn’t yet learned the unspoken rules: that other people might find what you believe to be offensive; that it’s just not ok to discuss religion or politics in polite company; that you must simply conceal, by whatever means necessary, any suggestion that you are part of, attend, or are in any way associated with church.
In other words, she loves Jesus, she loves her church, and she loves telling people that. Or singing Colin Buchanan songs in full voice on the train. Or writing stories at school about what she did with her church friends on the weekend. Or making a connection to something that’s happened and saying, “That’s just like what Jesus said in the Bible, isn’t it?”
Too often, I forget that evangelism is first about Jesus, second about the person who needs to hear, and my comfort (or discomfort) comes a distant ninth or tenth in the list of priorities. We’re disciples of the risen Christ, and he’s the one to talk about. But I often get so caught up in how my message (‘my’ message? God’s message!) will be heard that I dodge, weave, sweet-talk, or just shut up about it. And get just a teeny bit embarrassed when my daughter is belting out “J-E-S-U-S! Yes!” on the bus.
I know it’s ridiculous, and so I need to keep being reminded by hearing the gospel again and being reminded that Jesus is the one who has all authority, and who ought to be proclaimed to the ends of the earth. By all means I should make every effort to make the gospel intelligible to those I speak with, but there are going to be points where it’s a hard word for my friends and family to hear—and I think it’s okay to leave those points as jarring.
Three articles in this issue touch particularly on declaring Jesus to a world that needs him. Ben Pakula writes about the connection between music and evangelism, and how it is possible to use singing as a tool for the proclamation of the gospel. Rory Shiner helps us see Peter’s address to the crowd in Jerusalem (Acts 2) from the perspective of those hearing him, and how he had to do some work to make sense of the idea of a resurrected messiah. Thirdly, Tony writes about evangelistic tools—in this case, Two Ways to Live—and suggests some ways to be a disciple and make disciples along the way.
There are other excellent articles here too, such as Gordon’s third article in his series on children’s ministry (former articles can be found in Briefing issues #406 and #410). He helps us think through planning out ministry to children very intentionally, so as to help children minister to other children—much like the opportunities my daughter has with her classmates and friends, come to think of it.
As always, I think there’s lots in this issue that will be of benefit to you as you read and ponder, and I pray that God will equip you to continue to be faithful disciples and disciple-makers.