Monday, January 14, 2013

the e-word

This is my most recent letter in the church newsletter.  It generated a little commotion... which means it actually got peoples' blood pumping! 

Here you go.

On the rare occasion my whole family is together we almost inevitably end up talking about church.  We’re a churchy family.  We are SO COOL in my family (note sarcasm, here).

The thing is, church isn’t cool anymore.  No one my age goes to church.  In fact, most people of most ages don’t go to church- it’s just not the thing to do.  Granted, most folks in this country believe in something, but you can get that thing in nature (apparently, I’m more of an indoor girl, myself).

But I’m not here to barrage you with woes about church  attendance.  I want to offer a few  ideas, though, on how to get your friends to church.  It’s called… wait for it… evangelism.  And the most important thing about evangelism is building relationships.

Like I said, though, church isn’t cool anymore.  And frankly, relationships are hard.  People spend all their time dealing with relationships elsewhere, and they’re sick of doing it come Sunday.  They deal with relationships in business, with family, friends, children, colleagues, and they don’t want to do more of it in a place that isn’t going to move them, change them, transform them.

So here’s our dilemma: no one’s coming to church because church isn’t cool, but, those of us who are here, who are not cool, are called to evangelize.  Evangelism, I think, is best done in relationships with others.  But, who wants to be friends with uncool people?

Here’s what I think: I think people are craving community- real, authentic community with folks who care about them, and show them the Gospel.  But, they don’t have time to figure us out.  They think we’re weird with our rituals, our stories and our judgmental stuff, and they can’t see past all that muckity muck to the heart of the Christian life.  People don’t and won’t know what we are all about and how wonderful it is unless we build relationships with them.

There are a few people in this church who are darn good at relationships.  They remember your name, they call you up and ask you to lunch, invite you to sit with them in church, they ask about your kids, and, they even do the follow-up work- they tell you how good it was to see you there the other week.  They make you feel welcome, even when you only get here once in a while.  And they do it in a supremely uncool way- they do it because they love Jesus, so they love you, so that you can love Jesus and begin to know and love this community.  It’s beautiful.  It’s church.

There are some downsides to this process, though.  As an uncool person, you can tend to feel rejection easily.  I get it, but trust me, it’s not personal.  People do get busy.  They won’t come to stuff.  But, I beg you, please don’t write these people off.  Show them some grace.  They’ll come around eventually.  Trust that God is working on them.

Evangelism through relationships is hard work.  But knowing that you were  responsible for showing them the beauty of being in community and finding Christ?  That’s reward enough right there. 

So, go out you uncool church people!  Go pursue those people on the margins- write them emails, Facebook them, call them, tell them you want to SEE them, and do it in Jesus’ name.  They’ll think you’re weird, but they’ll love you (and Jesus) for it in the end.

1 comment:

  1. Love this, Sarah B! I'm an uncool person inspired to e-word ("evangelize")!