Anne blogs at Front Porch, Inspired about surrendering everyday living for sacred purposes. She and her husband, Jay, are founders of a ministry called The Bridge, focusing on missional living and advocacy for youth in vulnerable places of life. She holds an MA in Teaching Languages (TESOL and Spanish) and is a lover of words and the Word, culture and communication. Jay and Anne have five kids, a front door that can’t stay closed, and an abundance of messy, holy chaos at their neighborhood center/home in Iowa – of all places.
One day, a couple kids in our neighborhood came in with a picture Bible and announced they were going to make a club. And, this would be no average club. It would be a club to “tell people about Jesus.”
Something in me cringed as they innocently stomped into the volatile areas of ministry and missions, where few dare to tread. Oh, how would they navigate these rough waters of evangelism and church and “sharing Jesus?”
I tried to tactfully respond. “Well, your friends may not want to listen. You may need to show them what it means to be a Christian— like, be nice to them. Tell them 'good job' when they dunk the ball on you instead of spazzing out on them. Use your words instead of punching someone when you're ticked off. Ask before you 'borrow' each others' bikes. Share your hot cheetos. Take care of the little kids instead of hiding from them. That would really be cool, right? See, just talking to them might not work so well if you don't act differently.”
The boys didn’t seem convinced.
“So, what are you going to do if they don’t want to listen?” I asked.
They perked up. Now this, they were ready for. Their excitement and confidence oozed out everywhere. “Oh, we’re going to do GAMES! So, they can come for games, and then we’ll just tell them about Jesus.”
My husband joined in at this point. We tried a few more times to steer the conversation away from games and clubs, but the boys were resolute. They soon left, eager to set up their club. I heard them hauling chairs from the basement to set up in the garage for the big event. They spent the rest of the afternoon arranging and getting it ready.
My heart sank a little as I watched them – and it still hurts. Sure, I’m proud of their passion and encouraged by their good intentions.
Yet, as I watched them arranging chairs and making plans, I confess I looked over at my husband and mumbled that their club sounded an awful lot like the American church.
I walked away with heavy questions on my mind.
If somethings aren't taught but caught - what are our kids catching from us?
When did being a disciple of Christ require an afternoon of set-up and game-organization? When did sharing His love require baiting people with attractional events and program-marketing? Why did these boys think telling people about Jesus meant removing themselves from the playmates they wanted to influence, setting up a big show, and then awkwardly insisting they attend?
And, did they have to keep using the word, “club?”
When did we start overlooking the effectiveness of simply being like Christ in order to impact our worlds –walking like Him, talking like Him, loving like Him? It’s enough to make people stop and notice.
It’s winsome and welcoming.
It doesn’t emphasize special events or lighting but the super-natural, the God-given capacity to love people well.
It makes people wonder, “Why are you living how you are living?”
And then, you have a beautiful opportunity to not only tell them about Jesus, but to show them His love tangibly.
This type of loving and living doesn't diminish the Gospel; rather, it brings credibility to the Gospel. It overflows naturally from His disciples, those who have welcomed His rule into every space of their lives – the everyday as well as the events, the big and the little, the mundane and the milestones and all relationships in between.
If being a Christian means having a relationship with Jesus Christ, then may we focus more on introducing those around us to Him, friend to friend.
May we make Jesus, His ways & His heart, believable with our very lives.