We have had our 5th session of our Faith Sharing class. We did a bit of review of prior weeks and the cardboard testimony concept. I’m not sure why that was emphasized again, unless just to say that testimony need not be long and complicated? I think it is a lovely exercise for a church to do on occasion and a boost to our faith as we see how God has worked in our various members lives. I wonder where it applies in terms of those we would like to reach. I mean, I am not going to go out carrying my cardboard testimony sandwich board style. I don’t think it would be very effective in any case.
Next we watched a video about how not to approach sharing our faith. Basically, it was a guy who was shaking his finger in the face of his object and saying you are going to hell unless you repent and join us. He got punched out in the end, which seemed about right. There was certainly nothing inviting about it. I seriously doubt that anyone in our group would be inclined to take that approach. We want, at least, to be friendly and inviting in our approach. And I did not call the recipient an object lightly. Target might have been another way to look at it. In any case, whenever we lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with human beings and they have feelings and deserve to be treated with respect, we have a problem. Enough said on that I hope. Good grief though, this is a denominational church, not really of the evangelical bent in recent years. I think our members would be more inclined to have difficulty even starting a conversation on matters of faith, than to try to threaten someone with damnation.
In closing, we were exhorted to go out there and invite the people on our list to church. This caused one of our members, who was a former missionary to cry foul, as you might say. We are, if I got the gist of her well reasoned comments, wanting to introduce people to the love of Jesus, but that does not mean they will necessarily come to our church. This caused a bit of backpedaling on the part of the leader and a mention of the fact that actually they would join the body of Christ and which branch is not a concern. Plus, sometimes we just plant seeds and someone else waters and/or harvests.
I was really glad she spoke up, since I was on the verge of speaking up myself. The people on my prayer list are pretty hard core. They range from a life-long agnostic, to those involved in other non-christian faith traditions, to those who left their christian faith behind at some crucial turning point in their lives. Most do not live in my community so inviting them to my church would be pointless at best. In fact, in most of their cases, I gave up trying to convert them long ago. I would never bring up religion for fear of getting into an argument over our varied beliefs. I have always hoped that they would see something in me, or in other christians around them that they find lacking in whatever they do pursue. Praying is just about all I can do at this point, and to hope, if they ever do ask, that I will have the wisdom needed to respond to them in a manner that honors Christ. Sure, it would be nice to bring someone to church in the hope that they might want to join us. Perhaps in the sermons they would hear the answers they need. But we of course should be rather wary that it does not simply become a way to pad our membership numbers. As a wise friend once observed, it would be better to pray that we would be equipped to handle those that do come, than to pray for more people in our pews.
Next week is the final lesson. Stay tuned!