Excuse me: but I’d like to tell you about Jesus.
Does just typing that put a pit in your stomach and make you feel uncomfortable? Cause I can guarantee that if you feel uncomfortable reading it, then you perhaps feel uncomfortable saying it. No matter how much you think Jesus matters.
Why is that? Why is it that the faith we claim to believe and the God we claim to follow is so uncomfortable on our lips? Think about anything else in your life that you claim is central to your experience as a human being: your kids, your favorite sports team, your current diet fad; why is that easy to talk about where Jesus is difficult?
At some point in the last 100 or so years, faith became “personal”. Faith became buried in personal experience and relegated to the fringes of cultural discourse. And as much as we blame society, the church really didn’t help in that migration. We talked about making “personal commitments” to God. We were encouraged to believe in our hearts (and forgot the “confess with your mouth” part). And at the end of church services everywhere in “evangelicaldom” (where we spent the last hour staring at a stage and ignoring the people around us), we asked people to bow their heads and close their eyes (further cut themselves off from those around them) and pray a prayer; silently if they wanted to; to invite Jesus into their hearts.
And for an entire generation, that’s where he stayed; let out once a week to sing songs, listen to a preacher, and then neatly tucked back into our hearts. The most devoted among us asked him to make us better fathers, mothers, and co-workers. But that was it.
So it’s no surprise that any move towards every day evanglism as a responsibility of every believer, was met with resistance. We resist that which is unfamiliar. In response to this, we did what the church does best.
We created a program. We created scripts, lists, segueways into conversations around faith. There were courses, schools, sessions, “8 weeks to this and that” to encourage believers to engage in faith conversations so that leading others to Christ became routine, standard and “right”.
We wanted to make sure people said the right words. We feared what might happen if people said the wrong words.
The result, is we ended up saying no words. And wound up here. More uncomfortable than ever. Rather than catching the techniques, we caught the fear of our leaders who were nervous that we’d get it wrong. And most people by nature, would rather do nothing than do something wrong.
But you love Jesus. And even though speaking of him is uncomfortable, you would really like others to know the comfort, joy and peace that you feel in knowing Him. So what do you do?
The first step is not to pick up the latest evangelism booklet. I think we need to start with broadening our experience of spirituality. Church gatherings are great. But you won’t learn how to talk about Jesus by listening to someone else do it once a week. Watching Lebron James play basketball every week won’t make me a better player. Lacing up my shoes and hitting the court is the only thing that does that. We all get plenty of monologue in our churches; start creating dialogues. Call a few friends and tell them you would like to just talk about Jesus and your struggles. Resist creating an agenda; make the goal simply that everyone must contribute.
Lace up your shoes. Fail. And then try again. You’ll fail again. And one day, when you are still in the middle of making mistakes, you’ll realize it’s not longer awkward. There’s your first win.