I have been making my way through The Road to Missional by Michael Frost. It is a fantastic read and something that all Christian leaders should engage with as part of their contemplations regarding how to reach our neighbors in our Western culture context. One such gem within the book is where Frost highlights the problem of how to “do” evangelism. Some say verbally others say it’s all about your actions (social justice and hospitality). Frost begs us to consider that the truly missional congregation will see both as inseparable actions within our “sentness” as the Church.
The quote that I am chewing on and am really enjoying is the following:
If evangelism is like a meal, think of it as being prepared in a slow cooker and served over a long night around a large table. It can’t be microwaved. It can’t be takeout.
I love this image. Maybe it is due to my affinity for slowing things down, especially a meal full of conversation. It also could be that I long for such a thing based on the fact that having four children under the age of 7 meals are rarely slow and full of conversation (it is something we are working on). So the image that is painted here is appealing, but it also speaks to how I am inclined to operate myself. Too often, just as Frost points out, we evangelicals get this notion that we must tell everyone that we meet how to get to heaven and if we don’t then they are doomed and it is on us. So we walk onto planes, commuter trains, sit in coffee shops wondering if we are about to be tested to see if we are up on our faith. “Hi! That looks like a tasty burger. Would you like to know how to get to heaven?”
There is something seriously wrong with our understanding of God if we honestly believe that it is all on us in those few seconds to share the message of eternal life or that person will never experience the beauty of the resurrection of Jesus. I do know that we are moved by the Holy Spirit to speak to “strangers” and share about our faith. However, I believe that it is about sharing our story and not about specific high points you must reach by the time you land. Maybe, it is the start of conversation that will last another 4 months over e-mail. Maybe, that is all you will ever get with that person. If so, trust that God has them firmly in the love palm of God’s hand just as God has you. The interactions that we should be paying closer attention to are the ones that we have more frequently with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers/classmates. Slow cooked meal style.