Following up on my question yesterday about if we are asking the right questions in our children’s work (what or why questions), something which flows from that is when we are sharing faith with others, be it children’s work or reaching out to other ages even our friends, do we share our faith or share our church.
Does it even matter?
Faith is much more the why question. It seeks to answer meaning. Religion, I would suggest, is the kind of question that is more of a what.
Church activity, which is what many Christians might tell people about when considering sharing faith, is more of a fact based question. It might be that when someone asks you what you did on the Sunday morning* then you list out working with the kids, or singing songs, or praying, or listening to sermons. (*not me of course…my church doesn’t necessarily meet on Sunday mornings, though it can if that works for people)
Again, back to those what factual questions.
And it means that when we start looking at doing outreach to different groups of people we end up creating what type events. I was talking to Mrs G (Anne-Marie…my wife) and I was saying that as our own fresh expression of church grew we might have to watch that we don’t get lots of competing interest groups that people flitted between, leaving some groups starving for people, and some oversubscribed. Should one even think of controlling such things anyway? AM (Anne-Marie…she also gets called ‘wife’ alot 😉 ) then pointed out that the point though wasn’t to create activities for existing members, but rather for when people came up with a group idea it was for them to form a new group. But not everyone is wired to lead such groups…how then do we help THOSE people to have the skills to get a group together?
With my work with people, I personally am not too bothered about gathering people as an interest group. I would rather hang out with them, get to know them as friends, then go and have drinks with them, or the cinema or something. Then just do life. And on the way through I just pray for opportunities to share faith and somehow….well it works! I know that somewhere perhaps we should have a disciplined program of discipleship, but why? Considering there is the Holy Spirit at work, and in Acts 15 there doesn’t seem to be much being taught, but Paul seems to be following up on the work of the Spirit by showing how Jesus fitted in to the new faith. Then in come the gospels which, as Luke writes, is to give an orderly account.
In other words, Holy Spirit helps people come to faith then there is almost remedial faith work. We don’t build faith by filling people with knowledge first.
So what has that got to do with things? Simply this: we share the what church does…even what church is…but not what church means.
Perhaps we should be seeking to answer the WHY CHURCH questions?
And if we are going to do those activities for church to connect with people, we need to know why we are doing them, not just doing them for the sake of it. If we are doing something for community because God is community (trinity), then that is a good why. If we are seeking to help people learn something, then we are helping them with purpose. But we need to be clear about these things I think.
Why do I run a boardgames cafe? Well it’s because for some people they struggle with just socialising, but boardgames provides a framework. Why is socialising important? Because it builds community and a feeling of belonging. Why do people need that? Because loneliness is a problem, for all ages not just the elderly. So perhaps I need to be looking at finding those people who are lonely, and bringing them in.
And yes, there is the fact that on the way I will be sharing faith. it doesn’t stop at boardgames, because the greatest way around loneliness is having the best friend in the world, Jesus, there with you. But how about this..when on a Monday morning someone asks a person why they go to church they say because they feel included and part of something because the church cares about them enough to put something on for them. That now they have friends who accept them. And they are doing that because faith means also being encouraged, and having hope. And being accepted by God.
This is intentional way of sharing faith, and it is just an example.
So share the what of church, if you are also pointing to the why. Say that you sing in church because it makes you feel you belong to something. Say that you work with the children because its amazing to watch children understand who God is better than any adult, and they have a sense of awe and wonder.